Mouse's case

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Mouse’s Case (1608)[1] is a landmark English law judgment. The matter helped establish the defence of necessity in tort.[2]

A ferryman was carrying forty-seven people, including one named Mouse off Gravesend, when a storm threatened the barge. Another passenger threw the cargo overboard to save the barge. Mouse’s casket included £113 inside and he sued the passenger for its loss.

  • The court found that in cases of necessity, anyone may act to save lives and there is no liability to them, although there may be liability against the ferryman.[3]

It was, however, still incumbered on the ferryman to contribute to the reimburse of the loss.[4][5]


  1. ^ Mouse’s Case (1608) Michaelmas Term, 6 Jms I. vol 12, page 63
  2. ^ The case is also sometimes referred to as 77ER 1341.
  3. ^ Mouse’s Case. - Sir Edward Coke, [1] Selected Writings of Sir Edward Coke, vol. I (1600)].
  4. ^ Hicks v Pallington (1599) Moo KB 297.
  5. ^ Thomas A. Street, The Theory and Principles of Tort Law, Beard Books, page 18.