Land Mark Cases (UK)

Land Mark Cases in the UK adjudicated upon by the Judicial Committee of the House of Lords that was replaced by the Supreme Court of Justice of the United Kingdom in Oct 2009.

Decisions in leading cases in the United Kingdom have usually been made by the House of Lords, or more recently the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom; in Scotland by the Court of Session or High Court of Justiciary; – in England and Wales by the Court of Appeal or the High Court of Justice of England and Wales. Some twentieth century examples involved contributions from the late Lord Denning.

  • Darcy v Allein [1603] 77 Eng. Rep. 1260 King’s Bench: establishing that it was improper for any individual to be allowed to have a Monopoly over a trade.
  • The Case of Prohibitions (1607) Court of Common Pleas England
  • Bushel’s Case (1670) (Court of Common Pleas): establishing the principle that a judge cannot coerce a jury to convict.
  • Entick v Carrington [1765] 19 Howell’s State Trials 1030: establishing the civil liberties of individuals and limiting the scope of executive power
  • Tulk v Moxhay (1848) 41 ER 1143: establishing that in certain cases a restrictive covenant can “run with the land” (i.e. bind a future owner) in equity.
  • Hadley v Baxendale (1854) 9 Exch. 341 Court of Exchequer: establishing the extent to which a party in breach of contract is liable for the damages.
  • Rylands v Fletcher (1868) LR 3 HL 330: establishing a doctrine of strict liability for some inherently dangerous activities.
  • Foakes v Beer [1884] 9 A.C. 605: establishing the rule that prevents parties from discharging a contractual obligation by part performance
  • The Moorcock 14 P.D. 64 (1889): establishing the concept of implied terms in contract law.
  • Carlill v Carbolic Smoke Ball Company [1893] 1 QB 256: establishing the test for formation of a contract.
  • Dunlop Pneumatic Tyre v Selfridge and Co. Ltd. [1915] A.C. 847: confirming privity of contract: only a party to a contract can be sued on it. (This principle was later reformed by statute.)
  • A-G v De Keyser’s Royal Hotel Ltd [1920] AC 508: establishing that the Crown has no right under the royal prerogative to take possession of an owner’s land in connection with the defence of the realm without paying compensation, and that a statute in force may prevail to regulate the exercise of an existing prerogative power.
  • Donoghue v Stevenson [1932] S.C.(H.L.) 31: Lord Atkin established the “neighbour principle” as the foundation of the modern Scots delict (English tort) of negligence. This case used a wide ratio decidendi, which was held later as obiter, but still established the law of tort.
  • Central London Property Trust Ltd v High Trees House Ltd [1947] K.B. 130: establishing the doctrine of promissory estoppel.
  • Associated Provincial Picture Houses Ltd v Wednesbury Corporation [1948] 1 KB 223: establishing the concept of Wednesbury unreasonableness judicial review.
  • Hedley Byrne v Heller [1963] 2 All E.R. 575: establishing liability for pure economic loss, absent any contract, arising from a negligent statement.
  • Fagan v Metropolitan Police Commissioner [1969] 1 QB 439: a leading case illustrating the requirement for concurrence of actus reus for guilty act and Mens rea guilty mind” in order to establish a criminal offence.
  • Ramsay v IRC [1982] A. C. 300: establishing a doctrine that ignores for tax purposes the purported effect of a pre-ordained series of transactions into which there are inserted steps that have no commercial purpose apart from the avoidance of a liability to tax.
  • Furniss v Dawson [1984] A.C. 474: establishing that tax can be levied on the results of a composite transaction, even if steps that are only there for the purpose of avoiding tax do not cancel each other out.
  • Factortame case (1990): the European Court of Justice ruled that the House of Lords was required to suspend an Act of Parliament that infringed EC law.
  • R v R [1991]: the House of Lords invalidated the defence of marital rape to reflect a changing view in society.

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