150 Years of Case Law on Trial

Posted on 17th Jul 2015 in Historic Cases, ICLR News, Law Reporting

To commemorate the fact that ICLR has been creating case history for the last 150 years, we’ve put together a special Anniversary Edition of the Law Reports, which includes the 15 top cases voted for by you, our readers.

The results of that poll, and the cases chosen, are set out below. But first, a bit of background.

Since 1865, when the Council of Law Reporting was founded, we’ve been selecting and reporting the cases that have changed or clarified the law, or which are for some other reason of particular interest. But some precedents take precedence over others. With ICLR vote, we gave you the chance to help select the cases you thought had made the greatest contribution to legal history. We divided our history into five periods, and allowed a month for you to vote for a case from each period.

The five periods were:

1865 to 1914, 1915 to 1945, 1946 to 1970, 1971 to 1995 and 1996 to 2014

The periods were not of equal length because we recognised that older cases that still matter today are rarer than more recent landmark decisions (though these too may wane in relevance as time marches on). Within each period, ten cases were selected by way of a shortlist, for readers to vote on. But readers could nominate “extra” cases if they thought they merited inclusion instead.  A number of such extra cases were duly nominated, and these were mentioned in the individual blogs which we published as each voting period progressed.

All the cases selected for the shortlist for each period, together with their PDFs, were made freely available to read or download; in addition they have all been supplied to BAILII where they will remain permanently available. Click here for a list of the shortlisted cases on BAILII.

Infographic - 150 Year of Case Law on Trial

The selected cases

Period 1 (1865 to 1914)

  • Salomon v A Salomon & Co [1897] AC 22, HL(E)
  • Carlill v Carbolic Smoke Ball Co [1893] 1 QB 256, CA
  • Rylands v Fletcher (1866) LR 3 HL 330, HL(E)
Period 1 results

Period 2 (1915 to 1945)

  • Donoghue v Stevenson [1932] AC 562, HL(Sc)
  • Woolmington v Director of Public Prosecutions [1935] AC 462,HL(E)
  • Liversidge v Anderson [1942] AC 206, HL(E)
Period 1 results

Period 3 ( 1946 to 1970)

  • Associated Provincial Picture Houses Ltd v Wednesbury Corpn [1948] 1 KB 223, CA
  • Anisminic Ltd v Foreign Compensation Commission [1969] 2 AC 147, HL(E)
  • Central London Property Trust Ltd v High Trees House Ltd [1947] KB 130
Period 1 results

Period 4 (1971 to 1995)

  • Caparo Industries plc v Dickman [1990] 2 AC 605, HL(E)
  • R v R [1992] 1 AC 599, HL(E)
  • Pepper v Hart[1993] AC 593, HL(E)
Period 1 results

Period 5 (1996 to 2014)

  • In re A (Children) (Conjoined Twins: Surgical Separation) [2001] Fam 147, CA
  • A v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2005] 2 AC 68, HL(E)
  • Chartbrook Ltd v Persimmon Homes Ltd [2009] AC 1101, HL(E)
Period 1 results

To read a more detailed voting report on each of these periods, click on the title or graphic for that period, or follow our blog posts under the Historic Cases category.


ICLR Anniversary EditionAnniversary Edition

All these cases are collected in our special Anniversary Edition, published to commemorate our 150th Anniversary.

The Anniversary Edition contains a foreword by Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd, Lord Chief Justice, and a number of specially commissioned essays on the subject of law reporting, together with those top 15 cases voted for by you, our readers. A copy of this Anniversary Edition is available from the ICLR for £30. Call us on 020 7242 6471 or call into our shop at 119 Chancery Lane.

The book was launched at our Anniversary event at Lincoln’s Inn. We were privileged to welcome Lord Neuberger who gave his reflections on the most important cases from our 150 years.

Find out more and watch a video of the speech