"HIGH COURT OF JUSTICE KING’S BENCH DIVISION
11th January, 1943.
Before Mr. Justice Humphreys
Bennett v. Hughes
Mr. Thomas A. Bennett, of Leighton Road, Kentish Town, London, successfully claimed damages against Mr. William
J. Hughes, licensee of The Bull and Last, Highgate Road, London, for injury to a finger, which was dislocated and had to be amputated, caused through Mr. Bennett stumbling down a step at the exit from the saloon lounge into the yard.
The defendant denied negligence.
M R. Justice Humphreys, giving a reserved judgment, said the law applicable to the case was not in dispute. It was the duty of the licensee to keep his premises reasonably safe, and to take reasonable steps to look after the safety of those whom he “invited” there. It was also the duty of a customer to take reasonable care of himself. It was not suggested that the Lighting Restrictions Order affected that duty, in fact the Order had increased the necessity for care on the part of both parties.
It was virtually impossible in the present state of things for any premises which under the Order had to be kept in darkness to be made reasonably safe for people who were strangers there. All that could be done was the best that a reasonable person could do. At this exit a small lobby had been cut out of the lounge to screen it from the light in the lounge, and there was a double door, with the right-hand one permanently fixed. The left-hand door opened inwards. Outside was a stone step and a drop of six inches.
Although plaintiff was a regular customer, there was nothing to contradict his evidence that he never used this exit before and must be taken to be a stranger to the yard. The question therefore was: Was the defendant guilty of negligence in not warning him of the existence of the step?
Having regard to the peculiar construction of the lobby, his lordship had come to the conclusion that there was a duty on the defendant, although he was away at the time, to warn the plaintiff of the existence of this very awkward exit to the yard. Plaintiff had not warned, and was entitled to damages, which were entered at £256 and costs."
The Brewing Trade Review, February 1943, page 53.
£256 was quite a lot of money om 1943. When a pint of Ordinary Mild cost 11d per pint. That 256 quid would have bought you over 5,000 pints. Enough to last anyone a couple of months.
The Bull and Last is still trading. Though it seems to be a gastropub, unfortunately.