The map so far:

Welcome to the London Law Map!

Many people think they are familiar with legal London - the Royal Courts of Justice, the Inns of Court, the Old Bailey etc. But the streets of London are also home to a huge amount of case law. Here is just a selection:

Monday, 16 December 2013

Bird v Jones (1845) 115 ER 668

What's the case about?
A section of footpath on Hammersmith Bridge was fenced off in order to provide a viewing area for a regatta.  Mr Bird tried to enter the fenced area, but Mr Jones, the clerk of the bridge company, told him could only do so if he paid a fee.  Mr Bird refused to pay, entering instead by climbing over the fence.  Once over the fence, his way was blocked by two policemen, who had been hired by Mr Jones.  Mr Bird brought a claim against Mr Jones for false imprisonment.

Where is it on the map?
At point O.

Who won?
Mr Jones.  All the justices (except Denman CJ) agreed that blocking a person's way, whilst they were still able to travel in another direction, was not sufficient in itself to amount to false imprisonment.

What's the principle of law?
This remains an important case for understanding the tort of false imprisonment. Williams J stated that false imprisonment had to involve the 'total restraint of the liberty of the person, for however short a time' rather than simply 'a partial obstruction of his will, whatever inconvenience it may bring on him.'  

What's it like today?
Hammersmith Bridge today is not the bridge that Mr Bird and Mr Jones walked on.  That bridge opened in 1827 but had a number of structural problems and was replaced by the current structure in 1887. 

Interestingly, the first bridge was built by George, William and Stephen Bird, a West London firm of builders.  There is a memorial to the Bird family at the site of their former home on Shepherds Bush Road.  To see a photo of the plaque, and read the inscription, take a look at the excellent Plaques of London website.

The replacement bridge was designed by Sir Joseph Bazalgette and, like its predecessor has also been plagued by weaknesses.  It was closed to traffic for much of the 1990s but is currently open, albeit with a weight restriction in place.

Hammersmith Bridge has one more Bird connection: at the entrance to the bridge a notice of the bridge by-laws is attributed to one James Bird, Deputy Clerk of the London County Council.  The notice is dated 1914 and is not unique to Hammersmith Bridge - but it is not inconceivable that James Bird the Deputy Clerk of the Council was a relative of the Birds that built the bridge, or even the Mr Bird who fell out with the clerk of the bridge company, Mr Jones.

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Williams v Roffey Bros & Nicholls (Contractors) Ltd [1991] 1 Q.B. 1

What's the case about?
Roffey Bros & Nicholls (Contractors) Ltd had a contract with Shepherd's Bush Housing Association to refurbish Twynholm Mansions, a block of flats in Fulham.  A clause in the contract provided that Roffey would have to pay a penalty to the Housing Association if the work was not completed on time.   

Roffey engaged Mr Williams to do some carpentry inside the flats.  The agreed price for the job was £20,000.  It soon became clear that Mr Williams had bid far too low and would not be able to complete the job for £20,000.  In order to keep the work on schedule (and so avoid paying a penalty to the Housing Association), Roffey agreed that they would pay Mr Williams an extra £575 per flat completed.  Williams completed eight more flats, but Roffey only paid him an extra £1500.  Williams quit the site and sued Roffey, arguing that they had breached the agreement to pay extra for his work.

Where is it on the map?
At point Q.

Who won?
Mr Williams.  The Court of Appeal agreed that he was entitled to be paid extra for the work, as per his agreement with Roffey Bros.

What's the principle of law?
This case is important for understanding the doctrine of consideration and how a contract can validly be varied.  A contract cannot validly be varied without one party giving something in exchange for that variation.  In Pinnel's Case (1602) 5 Co Rep 117a, Lord Coke stated that an agreement to waive part of a debt could only be enforceable if the debtor gave something for it (Sir Edward Coke suggested 'a horse, hawk or a robe', but other things would doubtless suffice). 

In the present case, Roffey Bros argued that the agreement to pay Williams more was unenforceable because they were not getting any extra consideration from Williams in exchange.  The Court of Appeal disagreed.  Lord Justice Glidewell held that the extra benefit Roffey enjoyed from Williams performing the contract on time (or alternatively the disbenefit that Roffey avoided by not having to pay a penalty to the Housing Association) was sufficient consideration for the variation to be enforceable.

What’s it like today?
Twynholm Mansions are solid-looking redbrick mansion block on the edge of Lillie Road Recreation Ground in Fulham.  

The flats are still owned by Shepherd’s Bush Housing Association and were refurbished again in 2010.

Thursday, 21 November 2013

R v Walkington [1979] 1 WLR 1169

What's the case about?
Mr Walkington visited Debenhams on Oxford Street just before closing time.  He went to the second floor where the shop assistants were cashing up the tills.  He walked behind an unattended sales counter and pulled the till open.  Seeing that it contained no money, Mr Walkington slammed the till shut and made to leave the store.  He was stopped by a security guard and arrested.  He was convicted of burglary under s.9(1)(a) Theft Act 1968.

Where is it on the map?
At point K.

Who won?
The Crown ('R').  

What's the principle?
The offence of burglary under s.9(1)(a) Theft Act 1968 has two elements:

1. The defendant must enter a building, or a part of a building, without permission - that is to say that they must be a trespasser

2. Having entered the building, or part of the building, as a trespasser, the defendant must steal or try to steal something from the building.

Mr Walkington was very sorry for what he had done, but denied he was guilty of burglary.  He argued that the Crown Court judge had misdirected the jury as to the law.  These were his arguments:

1. He was not a trespasser as the till was located in an area that could be accessed by the public.  

2. He had only intended to steal any money he might find in the till.  Once he had seen that the till was empty, he had not tried to steal anything (his intention was conditional).  

The Court of Appeal rejected both of these arguments.  These were the reasons:

1. The area behind the sales counter was clearly out of bounds to the public.  This would have been obvious to Mr Walkington. 

2. Intending to steal anything that might be worth stealing was analagous to trying to steal.   It is irrelevant that the defendant may have later discovered that there was nothing worth stealing.

As both elements of the offence were satisfied, Mr Walkington's conviction was safe and his appeal was dismissed.

What's it like today?
The Debenhams store on Oxford Street is currently being refurbished.  When it is finished, the 1970s concrete will be hidden by shimmery silver tiles.  Currently, it is a building site.  Despite my best efforts, I could not persuade the security guard to let me take any photos inside.  But here are a couple of the exterior:

Note the ugly concrete still visible on the lower part of the building:

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Lipkin Gorman v Karpnale Ltd [1991] 2 AC 548

What's the case about?
The claimants (Lipkin Gorman) were a firm of solicitors.  Mr Cass was one of the partners.  He stole £222,000 from the firm's client account in order to fund his gambling habit.  He made company cheques payable to 'cash', and gambled the money away at the Playboy Club casino in Mayfair.  Mr Cass was not a particularly lucky gambler - he lost around £150,000 of the money he had stolen.  The Playboy Club were not aware that Mr Cass was gambling with stolen money.  When the other partners of Lipkin Gorman discovered Mr Cass' theft, they sued the owners of the Playboy Club for the return of their clients' money.

Where is it on the map?
At point B.

Who won?
The Playboy Club were ordered to return the majority of the money - around £150,000.  But the Club did not have to return the balance of the £222,000 that Mr Cass had spent, as they had paid it out to him as winnings. 

What's the principle?
This case was heard by the House of Lords and illustrates the operation of the common law remedy of restitution.  Where the legal owner of property (in this case Lipkin Gorman solicitors) is deprived of that property, they can sue the person who is now holding the property on the grounds that they have been 'unjustly enriched'.

The legal owner can recover a sum equivalent to the value of the property that they have been deprived of.  Liability is 'strict', which means that the defendant will have to reimburse the claimant regardless of whether they received the property in good faith.  However, the claimant must be able to prove that the defendant received their property using the rules of common law tracing.

There are two defences available to an innocent defendant:

1.  A defendant will not have to reimburse a claimant if he receives the money or property as part of a valid  contract.  In this case, the defence was not available because, under the law at the time (the Gaming Act 1845) it was not possible to make a valid gambling contract. 

2.  A defendant who has acted in good faith will not have to reimburse a claimant if he has changed his position as a result of receiving the property.  This is why the Playboy Club did not have to return money equivalent to the amount that they had paid out to Mr Cass as his winnings - those winnings were paid in good faith and the Club could not easily get them back.

What's it like today?
London's original Playboy Club - the star of this case - closed in 1981 and is now a Dorchester Hotel:
The doorman very kindly allowed me to photograph the lobby:

There are some wonderful photos of the building on the Dorchester's website.

And, the BBC have a slideshow of photos from back in the days when the building was still the Playboy Club.

Friday, 1 November 2013

Scott v London and St Katherine Docks Co [1861-73] All ER Rep 246

What's the case about?
The plaintiff (claimant) was employed at St Katharine Docks.  As he walked from one part of the docks to another, he was hit by six bags of sugar that fell from a crane above him.  He was injured and sued the dock company on the basis that their negligence had caused his injuries.

Where is it on the map?
At point P.

Who won?
The plaintiff.  The defendant was found to have caused the plaintiff's injuries, even though it could not be established exactly how the bags of sugar had come to fall upon him.

What's the principle?
This case is an authority for the concept of res ipsa locquitur, which can be translated as 'the thing speaks for itself'.
In a claim of negligence a claimant needs to prove (on the balance of probabilities) that the defendant has caused his loss.  The usual test can be found in Barnett v Kensington and Chelsea Hospital Management Committee [1969] 1 Q.B. 428

The concept of res ipsa locquitiur can be used to help a claimant who might struggle to prove exactly how the defendant caused their loss.  There will be a presumption of negligence if the thing (in this case the crane) was under the control of the defendant and the accident would not usually happen unless there was some negligence on the part of the defendant.

What's it like today?
St Katharine's Docks are still operational, and are home to yachts, barges, and some very nice bars and restaurants.  The building with the clock tower is called Ivory House and was built in 1852.  So it would still have been fairly new at the time of the plaintiff's accident, which was in January 1864.

The docks are in an ideal location, maybe 50 meters from Tower Bridge:

Thanks to the tall guy who helped me to take a picture of this bollard, which is embossed 'St Katharine by the Tower':

What's with the spelling?
The docks are quite clearly called 'St Katharine's'.  But every citation I have seen calls it 'St Katherine's'.  I am satisfied that it is the same place.  But I don't think it's fair to get into an argument with Victorian court reporters over spellings, so I have kept the title as per the citations...

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Barnett v Kensington and Chelsea Hospital Management Committee [1969] 1 Q.B. 428

What's the case about?
Mr Barnett was employed as a security guard at the Chelsea College of Science and Technology.  In the early morning of New Year's day 1966 he began to feel unwell.  He left work and went to his local hospital, St Stephens.  The accident and emergency nurse was unsure what to do with Mr Barnett, and telephoned for the doctor.  The doctor refused to see Mr Barnett, and suggested instead that he go home and call on his own doctor if he continued to feel unwell.

Mr Barnett went back to work, lay down, and was later found to be gravely ill.  He was taken back to hospital but pronounced dead on arrival.  It was discovered that Mr Barnett had been poisoned with arsenic. His widow brought a claim in negligence against the hospital.  She sought compensation from the hospital on the grounds that had the doctor done his duty and seen Mr Barnett, he would not have died.

Where is it on the map?
The hospital is at point R and the college at point S.

Who won?
The hospital.  The court agreed with Mrs Barnett that the doctor had been negligent when he refused to see Mr Barnett.  But the court also found that as Mr Barnett had been poisoned by arsenic he would likely have died even if the doctor hadn't been negligent.

What's the principle?
This case illustrates the test of factual causation in tort, often known as the 'but for' test: but for the defendant's negligence would the claimant have suffered loss?  If not, then factual causation is satisfied and the other elements of the claim can be considered.  If the answer if yes, the loss would have occurred anyway and the defendant will not be liable, regardless of whether they acted negligently.

What's it like today?
Most of the site of St Stephen's Hospital is now taken up by the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, which opened in 1993.  The remaining part of St Stephen's Hospital is now known as the St Stephen's Centre and is home to a HIV/AIDS research centre:

Mr Barnett had been working at the Chelsea College of Science and Technology on Manresa Road when he was taken ill.  A brief history of the building, along with pictures, can be found here.  Chelsea College of Science and Technology later became part of King's College London.  The building on Manresa Road was converted into flats in 2005.  The facade has been kept, but the interior has been remodelled.  According to the developer, the flats sold for record prices.

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain v Boots Cash Chemists (Southern) Ltd [1953] 1 All ER 482

What's the case about?
In 1951, Boots started operating a self-service chemists' store in Edgware.  The store was arranged so that customers could select items, take them to the till and pay for them there.  The tills were supervised by a pharmacist.  The Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain brought a claim against Boots, arguing that they were selling medicines without the proper supervision of a pharmacist, in contravention of the Pharmacy and Poisons Act 1933.

Where is it on the map?
At point J.

Who won?
Boots.  The Court of Appeal held that the sale did not take place until the cashier served the customer, and at this stage the transaction was supervised by a pharmacist.

What's the principle?
A contract (in this case a contract for the sale of medicines) is not formed until a party has made an offer, and the offer has been accepted by the other party.  An offer must show an unequivocal intention to form a contract, on certain terms.  The Pharmaceutical Society argued that Boots made an offer to the customer by placing the items on the shelves.  But the Court of Appeal held that the offer was actually made by the customer, when he or she gave their selected items to the cashier.  At this stage, a pharmacist supervised the proceedings and the customer's offer would be rejected if the goods were not appropriate for them.  So Boots' new sales method was lawful.  

This case is often cited as authority for the proposition that shops do not make an offer to the customer when placing items on shelves.  Instead, this sales method is an example of an 'invitation to treat'.  

What's it like now?
Sixty years have passed and it's fair to say that self-service shops have caught on.  But some things are slower to change: the shop in Edgware is still a chemist, albeit no longer a Boots.

The manager was very kind and let me take a few photos inside:

It's a beautifully laid-out shop.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Tulk v Moxhay (1848) 47 ER 1345

What's the case about?
In 1808 Mr Tulk sold land at Leicester Square to Mr Elms for £210.  The land was arranged as 'pleasure gardens'.  As a condition of the sale, Mr Elms covenanted (promised) that neither he nor anyone who might own the land after him would build on it.  After Mr Elms' died in 1822 the land changed hands a number of times.  By 1848 it was owned by Mr Moxhay.  Mr Moxhay was aware of the covenant entered into by Mr Elms but denied that he was bound by it.  He sought to build on Leicester Square.  Mr Tulk tried to stop him. 

Where is it on the map?
At point C.

Who won?
Mr Tulk won.  The Lord Chancellor ruled that Mr Moxhay could not build on the square as he was bound by Mr Elms' covenant.  This was because the promise contained in the covenant related directly to the land (in legal language it 'touched and concerned' the land) and because Mr Moxhay knew about the covenant when he bought the land.  It would have been unfair for him to have negotiated a low price for the land on the basis that it was not possible to build on it and then seek to deny that state of affairs once he had completed the purchase.

What's the principle?
Tulk v Moxhay is authority for the principle that the burden of a negative freehold covenant (a promise not to do something with freehold land, such as not to build on it) can be enforced against future owners of land even though they are not the original person that made the promise in the covenant.

As with most legal principles, there are a few further hoops to jump through.  The covenant must 'touch and concern' the land.  This is a notoriously difficult term to define but an example of a covenant that does not touch and concern the land would be one that contained a personal promise e.g. a promise to let a neighbour play your piano cannot be enforced against you by a person who buys your neighbour's house.  Also, the original parties to the covenant must have intended that it would run with the land.  In Tulk v Moxhay, this was apparent from Mr Elms' promise that future owners of the land would be bound by his promise.  And finally, the purchaser must have had notice of the covenant, that is to say they must have been aware of it.  But a purchaser cannot escape a covenant by turning a blind eye to the paperwork - the courts will treat a purchase as having notice of a covenant if he could have found out about it by making reasonable enquiries.

What's it like now?
In 1874 the land was purchased by Baron Grant, Member of Parliament for Kidderminster, on behalf of the Metropolitan Board of Works.  Baron Grant paid for the ground to be refurbished and for a statue of William Shakespeare to be erected.  Today, the land is owned and maintained by Westminster City Council.

The inscription on the fountain commemorates Baron Grant's gift.

It has been 205 years since Mr Elms made his promise to Mr Tulk and the land still has not been built on. To find out more about the history of Leicester Square, take a look at this excellent website: 

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Krell v Henry [1903] 2 KB 740

What's the case about?
Mr Krell owned premises on the 3rd floor of 56a Pall Mall.  In March 1902, he advertised the premises to let.  He put up a sign pointing out that the windows would offer a good view of Edward VII's coronation procession, which was to take place on 26 and 27 June.  On 20 June, Mr Henry agreed to let the rooms for 26 and 27 June.  The agreement did not state that the premises were hired for any particular purpose.  Mr Henry paid a deposit of 25 shillings and agreed to pay a balance of 50 shillings on 24 June.  The King fell ill and his coronation was called off (he was eventually crowned in August 1902).  Mr Henry refused to pay the remaining 50 shillings. When Mr Krell sued him, Mr Henry counter-sued for a refund of the 25 shilling deposit!

Where is it on the map?

At point I.

Who won?
In the Court of Appeal, Lord Justice Vaughan Williams held that Mr Henry did not have to pay the balance of 50 shillings.  But he could not recover the 25 shillings already paid.

What's the principle?

This case illustrates the doctrine of frustration of contract.  The Court found that both parties knew the premises were hired for the purposes of watching the procession, even though this was not made explicit in their contract.  The coronation was a fundamental part of the contract and its cancellation made the contract impossible to perform.  As this was a factor outside of either party's control they were released from their future obligations.

What's it like now?

This is Quadrant House, at 55-58 Pall Mall.  The ground floor is occupied by the Commonwealth Secretariat. The third floor has an ornate balcony, which no doubt gives an excellent view of Pall Mall.  The premises are very close to St James' Palace and The Mall.  So close in fact, that I bumped into these guys on the way back to the tube:

As for the law, the Law Reform (Frustrated Contracts) Act 1943 modifies the effect of frustration on some types of contract, but Krell v Henry remains good law in some situations.

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Central London Property Trust v High Trees House Ltd [1956] 1 All ER 256

What's the case about?
In 1937, the tenant (High Trees House Ltd) took the lease of High Trees House, a block of flats in Clapham, for 99 years.  The ground rent was £2,500 per annum.  The tenants found it difficult to let the individual flats due to the outbreak of war. In 1940, the landlord (Central London Property Trust) agreed in writing to reduce the ground rent to £1,250 per annum. By early 1945 the tenant's position had improved and the whole block was occupied. In September 1945 the landlord wrote again to the tenant asking that they start paying full rent again. They brought a claim in the High Court to recover the post 1945 ground rent at the higher rate.

Where is it on the map?

At point H.

Who won?
Giving judgment, Denning J (later to become Lord Denning) held that the circumstances under which the reduction had been made (i.e. the war) no longer applied and therefore the landlord could charge ground rent at £2,500 per annum again. But Denning also stated that the landlord would not be able to recover the unpaid rent from the war period, as he had promised not to and it would be inequitable for him to go back on his promise.

What's the principle of law?

The rather grand name for the principle is 'promissory estoppel'. It modifies the basic principle that a variation of a contract can only be binding if you give something in return for it ('consideration').  

Promissory estoppel is applied at the judge's discretion where the alternative would be an unfair (inequitable) outcome.  It will not be applied if the defendant has acted in bad faith.  Where promissory estoppel is applied, it will protect a defendant who is in breach of contract but has acted in reliance of the other party's promise.

What's it like today?


The building is still looking elegant, and it appears that a roof terrace has been added.  Here is a link to a blog with some much better pictures than my own.

Mayor of Westminster v London and North Western Railway Company [1905] AC 426

What's the case about?
The London and North Western Railway Company owned buildings on Parliament Street.  The Mayor of Westminster had a power to construct public toilets under the Public Health (London) Act 1891.  The Mayor used this power to build toilets beneath the centre of the road. They constructed steps going down from the pavement on either side of the road.  The steps encroached on the Railway's land.  The Railway argued that the design of the scheme meant that the Mayor had in effect, constructed a public subway as well as toilets, and that he had no power in law to do this.

Where is it on the map?
At point D.

Who won?
The Mayor of Westminster won - the House of Lords held that the Mayor had used his power to construct public toilets in a legitimate way, and that the dual purpose did not invalidate this.

What's the principle of law?
The courts should not interfere where a public authority exercises its statutory discretion in a bona fide and reasonable way.

What's it like today?

The subway is still in use, as are the toilets!

Saturday, 12 October 2013

About this blog

Many people think they are familiar with legal London - the Royal Courts of Justice, the Inns of Court, the Old Bailey etc. But the streets of London are also home to a huge amount of case law. Over the next few weeks I will be uploading details of interesting cases involving places in London. My criteria for including a case are:

  • It has to be a noteworthy case, preferably one that undergraduate Law students will be familiar with
  • It has to involve a place in London 
  • The place has to still be there! 

Some of these locations have been easy to find, others less so. I have tracked down the locations by reading law reports, by using Google Streetview and by visiting on foot. If you think I have made any mistakes, or you have suggestions of your own, please let me know!