Alexandrou v Oxford

JurisdictionEngland & Wales
CourtCourt of Appeal (Civil Division)
Judgment Date16 February 1990
Date16 February 1990

Court of Appeal

Before Lord Justice Slade, Lord Justice Parker and Lord Justice Glidewell


Negligence - duty of care - special relationship

Police not liable in damages after burglary

It was necessary for a plaintiff seeking to establish that a defendant owed him a duty to take reasonable care to prevent his being caused loss by the act of another person that the defendant stood in a special relationship to the plaintiff from which that duty of care arose.

The Court of Appeal so stated in allowing an appeal by Kenneth Gordon Oxford, formerly Chief Constable of Merseyside, against the award of £7,500 damages to the plaintiff, Socrates Alexandrou, by Mr Justice Hodgson on February 17, 1989, for the negligence of Merseyside Police officers.

Mr Brian Leveson, QC and Mr Graham Morrow for the chief constable; Mr Rodney Scholes, QC and Mr Ian Trigger for the plaintiff.

LORD JUSTICE GLIDEWELL said that the plaintiff occupied a retail clothing store in the Grange Precinct, Birkenhead, and had installed a burglar alarm system which, when activated, raised the alarm at a police station in Birkenhead. At 7.20pm on January 26, 1986 the burglar alarm was activated and a 999 call was received at the police control room.

Police attended within a few minutes and apparently found the front and rear of the premises to be secure. Thereafter attention was paid to the shop on a number of occasions by a particular officer who, at about 9.30pm, realized the interior alarm bell had stopped.

He said that he then checked the rear of the shop and again found it secure. The police were unable to contact the person holding the keys of the shop.

Mr Justice Hodgson had not accepted the evidence of the officer about checking the rear of the premises on either occasion and had held that the police had owed the defendant a duty of care.

It was possible to envisage an agreement between an occupier of property protected by a burglar alarm and the police which would impose a contractual liability on the police. That was not, however, the situation in the present case.

The communication with the police had been by a 999 telephone call followed by a recorded message.

If as a result of that communication the police came under a duty of care to the plaintiff, it must follow...

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50 cases
  • Kent v Griffiths (No.2)
    • United Kingdom
    • Court of Appeal (Civil Division)
    • 3 February 2000
    ...from the Capital & Counties case, to which I have already referred, in relation to fire brigades, the decision of this court in Alexandrou v Oxford [1993] 4 All ER 328 as to the police when responding to a '999' call and OLL Ltd v Secretary of State for Transport [1997] 3 All ER 897 in re......
  • Capital & Counties Plc v Hampshire County Council
    • United Kingdom
    • Queen's Bench Division
    • 28 March 1996
    ...was immune from action on the ground of public policy by analogy with the position of the police service in Alexandrou v OxfordUNK ([1993] 4 All ER 328. In his Lordship's judgment, considerations similar to those specifically referable to the investigation and suppression of crime did not a......
  • John Munroe (Acrylics) Ltd v London Fire and Civil Defence Authority and Others
    • United Kingdom
    • Queen's Bench Division
    • 15 April 1996 the building owner when they did so respond, his Lordship started with the second Caparo requirement. In Alexandrou v OxfordUNK ([1993] 4 All ER 328), not only did the police respond to a 999 call but, like the fire brigade in the present case, inspected the premises and kept a periodic ......
  • Osman v Ferguson
    • United Kingdom
    • Court of Appeal (Civil Division)
    • Invalid date
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3 books & journal articles
  • Tort Litigation in the Context of Intra‐Familial Abuse
    • United Kingdom
    • The Modern Law Review Nbr. 61-2, March 1998
    • 1 March 1998 See further Graycar and Morgan, n 13 above, 291–295; Forell, n 137above, 238–241.143 See, for example, Alexandrou vOxford [1993] 4 All ER 328; Elgyzouli-Daf vCommissioner ofPolice [1995] QB 335; Osman vFerguson [1993] 4 All ER 344.144 ibid.March 1998] Tort Litigation in Intra-fa......
  • ‘Caparo Under Fire’: a Study into the Effects upon the Fire Service of Liability in Negligence
    • United Kingdom
    • The Modern Law Review Nbr. 63-4, July 2000
    • 1 July 2000
    ...duty ofcare. In Osman vThe United Kingdom (hereinafter referred to as ‘Osman’),18 the14 All discussed ibid 63.15 In Alexandrou vOxford [1993] 4 All ER 328, 340, Glidewell LJ held that the public policyobservations in Hill ‘were general, not limited to the facts of that case.’ Hill played a ......
  • Doctors as Good Samaritans: Some Empirical Evidence Concerning Emergency Medical Treatment in Britain
    • United Kingdom
    • Journal of Law and Society Nbr. 30-2, June 2003
    • 1 June 2003
    ...v. Secretary ofState for Transport [1997] 3 All E.R. 897 (no duty on coastguard co-ordinating air-sea rescue), Alexandrou v. Oxford [1993] 4 All E.R. 328 (no duty on police to respondto 999 call).5 General Medical Council, Good Medical Practice (3rd edn., 2001) para. 9. Similarethical decla......

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