Volenti Non Fit Injuria in UK Law

Leading Cases
  • Nettleship v Weston
    • Court of Appeal
    • 30 Jun 1971

    Nothing will suffice short of an agreement to waive any claim for negligence. The plaintiff must agree, expressly or impliedly, to waive any claim for any injury that may befall him due to the lack of reasonable care by the defendant: or, more accurately, due to the failure of the defendant to measure up to the standard of care that the law requires of him.

  • Kirkham v Chief Constable of the Greater Manchester Police
    • Court of Appeal
    • 20 Dec 1989

    Where a man of sound mind injures himself in an unsuccessful suicide attempt, it is difficult to see why he should not be met by a plea of volenti non fit injuria. He has not only courted the risk of injury by another; he has inflicted the injury himself. In Hyde v. Tameside Area Health Authority, the plaintiff, who had made an unsuccessful suicide attempt, brought an action for damages against the Health Authority alleging negligence on the part of the hospital staff.

    So I would be inclined to hold that where a man of sound mind commits suicide, his estate would be unable to maintain an action against the hospital or prison authorities, as the case might be. Volenti non fit injuria would provide them with a complete defence. There should be no distinction between a successful attempt and an unsuccessful attempt at suicide.

  • Marshall v Osmond
    • Court of Appeal
    • 16 Mar 1983

    I think that the duty owed by a police driver to the suspect is, as Mr. Spokes, on behalf of the appellant, has contended, the same duty as that owed to anyone else, namely to exercise such care and skill as is reasonable in all the circumstances.

  • Reeves v Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis
    • House of Lords
    • 15 Jul 1999

    People of full age and sound understanding must look after themselves and take responsibility for their actions. This philosophy expresses itself in the fact that duties to safeguard from harm deliberately caused by others are unusual and a duty to protect a person of full understanding from causing harm to himself is very rare indeed.

    It is unusual for a person to be under a duty to take reasonable care to prevent another person doing something to his loss, injury or damage deliberately. On the whole people are entitled to act as they please, even if this will inevitably lead to their own death or injury. As a general rule the common law duty of care is directed towards the prevention of accidents or of injury caused by negligence.

  • Lane v Holloway
    • Court of Appeal
    • 30 Jun 1967

    I agree that in an ordinary fight with fists there is no cause of action to either of them for any injury suffered. The reason is that each of the participants in a fight voluntarily takes upon himself the risk of incidental injuries to himself. But he does not take on himself the risk of a savage blow out of all proportion to the occasion. The man who strikes a blow of such severity is liable in damages unless he can prove accident or self-defence.

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Books & Journal Articles
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Law Firm Commentaries
  • The Letter Of The Law
    • Mondaq UK
    • October 24, 2018
    ...... affront to justice to allow Elmer to profit from his own wrong (as volenti non fit injuria). Gray J dissented: in his judgment, the statutory ......
  • Arbitration By Battle
    • Mondaq United Kingdom
    • July 22, 2014
    ...... One defence to a claim in tort is that of volenti non fit injuria ('to he who consents there can be no injury'). Is volenti ......
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