Case Law On Trial: 1865 – 1914

Posted on 20th Feb 2015 in Historic Cases, ICLR News

ICLR has been creating case history and supporting the administration of justice for 150 years. In celebration of this we will publish a special Anniversary Edition containing the 15 top cases voted for by you, our readers. We are putting our cases on trial and we need you to give us your verdict.

The first instalment of the voting process, covering cases reported between 1865 and 1914, is nearly at an end. For the last three weeks, we’ve been receiving your votes for ten landmark cases reported in the period between ICLR’s establishment  in 1865 and the outbreak of The Great War in 1914.

Here are the scores on the doors…

  • In first place, with 30% of the vote, is Salomon v A Salomon & Co [1897] AC 22, HL(E)The case of Salomon v Salomon, as David Allen Green pointed out on Twitter, is a byword for the law of corporate personality, holding that a veil of incorporation keeps the legal personality of a company separate from that of its members.
  • In second place, with 25% of the vote, is Carlill v Carbolic Smoke Ball Co [1893] 1 QB 256, CA. The Carbolic Smoke Ball case held that a contract was formed when an advertised offer of compensation for catching influenza was accepted by performance.
  • In joint third place, with 10% apiece, we have Rylands v Fletcher (1866) LR 3 HL 330, HL(E) (which establishes that an owner of land is liable for damage caused by allowing something dangerous brought onto his or her land to escape) and R v Dudley & Stephens (1884) 14 QBD 273, DC (which, involved two hungry sailors and a very unlucky cabin boy).
  • Additional nominations have been received for the following cases:
    • Rochefoucauld v Boustead [1897] 1 Ch 196, CA (which effectively invented the constructive trust)
    • Pollard v Photographic Co (1888) 40 ChD 345 (an important case in the development of privacy)
    • Wheeldon v Burrows (1879) 12 Ch D 31 (establishes the implied grant of easements on a sale of part)

The 1865-1914 voting period will continue until the end of February here (so, if you haven’t voted yet you still can), until we give way to a fresh list of cases reported between 1915 and 1945. So, get voting if you haven’t already and keep an eye on Twitter (via hashtag #iclrvote)  for the next round of voting!


This post was updated on 27 February 2015.