List of landmark United Kingdom House of Lords cases

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This page lists legal decisions of the House of Lords. Until 30 September 2009, the House of Lords was the highest appellate court for the United Kingdom. Cases were determined not by the House of Lords itself, but by its Judicial Committee, consisting of up to nine legally qualified peers, generally referred to as "Law Lords". On 1 October 2009 its functions were transferred to the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom.

For a complete list of all legal cases heard by the House of Lords, see List of United Kingdom House of Lords cases.

Case Date OSCOLA Citation Summary
Duke of Norfolk's Case 1682 3 Ch. Cas. 1, 22 E.R. 931 rule against perpetuities
Donaldson v Beckett 1774 1 E.R. 837 Copyright could not be a right in perpetuity
Steel v Houghton 1788 126 ER 32 Establishes the nature of property which imports absolute enjoyment’
Wright v Tatham 1838 132 E.R. 877 Hearsay
Dimes v Grand Junction Canal 1852 3 HLC 759 A judge with a financial interest in one of the parties to a case is debarred from deciding a case involving that party; applying the principle "Nobody should be a judge in their own cause".
Rylands v Fletcher 1868 LR 3 H.L. 330 Liability could attach in tort for escape of materials from land
Hughes v Metropolitan Railway Co. 1877 2 A.C. 439 The first example of promissory estoppel being applied, although to delay rather than extinguish common-law rights.
Foakes v Beer 1884 L.R. 9 A.C. 605 Part-payment of a debt, in the absence of consideration, will not extinguish the debt.
Wakelin v London & South Western Railway Co. 1886 12 A.C. 41, 56 L.J.Q.B. 229 (H.L.) A defendant's negligence must be causative of, rather than incidental to, damage to the plaintiff.
Derry v Peek 1889 14 A.C. 337, 58 L.J. Ch. 864, 61 L.T. 265 (H.L.) Fraud and negligent mistatement.
Browne v Dunn 1893 6 R. 67 (H.L.) An advocate must raise in Cross examination issues that are in dispute otherwise reliance on those issues will be prohibited.
Reddaway v Banham 1896 A.C. 199 Passing off
Salomon v A Salomon & Co Ltd 1897 A.C. 22 Recognized a corporation as a separate entity.
Walter v Lane 1900 A.C. 539 H.L. Fixation by journalist creates copyright by publisher.
Heilbut, Symons & Co. v Buckleton 1913 A.C. 30 Innocent misrepresentation in contract gives no right to damages.
Lennard's Carrying Co Ltd v Asiatic Petroleum Co Ltd 1915 A.C. 705 Alter-ego theory of corporate liability, establishing that directors are the controlling minds of the company and therefore the company is liable for their misdeeds.
Dunlop Pneumatic Tyre v Selfridge and Co. Ltd. 1915 A.C. 847 Privity in contract law
Herd v Weardale Steel Coal & Coke Ltd. 1915 A.C. 67, 84 L.J.K.B. 121 (H.L.) Unlawful imprisonment
Adam v Ward 1917 All E.R. 151 Definition of qualified privilege
Donoghue v Stevenson 1932 A.C. 532 Lord Atkin's famous statement about duty of care in the tort of negligence.
Bell v Lever Brothers 1932 A.C. 161 Mutual mistake at common law
Hillas v Arcos 1932 All E.R. 494 The court may imply terms into a contract based on the previous business dealings of the parties.
Woolmington v DPP 1935 A.C. 462 H.L.(E) It is always incumbent on the prosecution in a criminal case to prove guilt beyond reasonable doubt.
Fibrosa Spolka Akcyjna v Fairbairn Lawson Combe Barbour 1942 2 All E.R. 122, 1943 A.C. 32 Frustration in contract law
Hay v Young 1943 A.C. 92 Nervous shock
Bolton v Stone 1951 A.C. 850, 1 All E.R. 1078 (H.L.) Breach of duty of care.
Silkin v Beaverbrook Newspapers Ltd. 1958 1 W.L.R. 743 Freedom of speech.
Cavanagh v Ulster Weaving Co. Ltd. 1960 A.C. 1959 2 All E.R. (H.L.) Evidence of trade practice is not determinative of whether there had been negligence on the facts.
Scruttons Ltd v Midland Silicones Ltd 1961 2 Lloyd's Rep. 365 (H.L.) Privity of contract and the agency exception.
White & Carter (Councils) Ltd v McGregor 1961 All E.R. 1178
Hughes v Lord Advocate 1963 All E.R. 705 (H.L.) Manner of occurrence in tort of negligence (remoteness).
Hedley Byrne v Heller 1963 2 All E.R. 575 Economic loss in tort. Negligent mistatement.
Ridge v Baldwin 1964 A.C. 40 Judicial review, natural justice and fair hearing.
Practice Statement 1966 Change of practise regarding precedent, allowing the House of Lords to overrule its own previous decisions in exceptional circumstances.
Suisse Atlantique case 1966 2 All E.R. 61
Regal (Hastings) v Gulliver 1967 2 A.C. 134 Fiduciary duties of company directors.
Anisminic v Foreign Compensation Commission 1969 2 A.C. 147 Judicial review, error of law
Home Office v Dorset Yacht Co. 1970 2 All E.R. 294 Tort, duty of care
Saunders v Anglia Building Society 1971 A.C. 1004 Importance of signature.
Tesco Supermarkets v Nattrass 1972 A.C. 153 Directing mind of corporation.
McGhee v National Coal Board 1972 3 All E.R. 1008 (H.L.) Causation in tort.
Haughton v Smith 1975; 1973; 1974 AC 476; 3 All ER 1109; 3 W.L.R. Attempted crimes, subsequently overturned by Criminal Attempts Act 1981
American Cyanamid Co. v Ethicon Ltd. 1975 A.C. 396 H.L.(E) Injunctions
Miliangos v George Frank Ltd 1976 A.C. 443 UK courts were entitled to make awards of damages specified in foreign currency.
Anns v Merton London Borough Council 1978; 1977 A.C. 728; 2 All E.R. (H.L.) Compensation of economic loss caused by negligence; overruled by Murphy v Brentwood District Council.
Securicor Transport Ltd. v Photo Production Ltd. 1980 2 W.L.R. 283 Exclusion clauses.
Ramsay v IRC 1982 A.C. 300 Disregarding artificial transactions designed solely to avoid tax.
Catnic Components Ltd. v Hill & Smith Ltd. 1982 R.P.C. 183
Brinkibon Ltd v Stahag Stahl und Stahlwarenhandelsgesellschaft mbH 1983 2 A.C. 34 Contract law, instantaneous communication, approving Entores v Miles Far East Co.
Amin Rasheed Shipping Corp. v Kuwait Insurance Co. 1984 1 App Cas 50 Choice of law in contract, renvoi.
Furniss v Dawson 1984 A.C. 474
Spiliada Maritime Corp v Cansulex Ltd 1987 A.C. 460 Forum non conveniens.
Caparo Industries Plc. v Dickman 1990 Pure economic loss in tort. Duty of care.
Attorney-General v Guardian Newspapers Ltd. (No. 2) 1990 1 AC 109 Confidentiality and public interest.
R v Brown 1993 2 W.L.R. 556 Sadomasochism and consent in criminal law.
Reynolds v Times Newspapers Ltd. 1999 Freedom of expression and defamation.
White v White 2000 1 A.C. 596 'Yardstick of equality' in division of matrimonial assets between spouses in ancillary relief proceedings
Fairchild v Glenhaven Funeral Services Ltd 2002 UKHL 22 Exposure to asbestos; multiple tortfeasors.
Campbell v MGN Ltd. 2004
Regina v Special Adjudicator 2004 UKHL 26
Kirin-Amgen v Hoechst Marion Roussel 2004 UKHL 46
A and Others v Secretary of State for the Home Department 2005 Imprisonment without trial for terrorism suspects
R v Jones 2006 UKHL 16 Iraq war; international law
Barker v Corus 2006 UKHL 20 Exposure to asbestos; "proportionate liability" of multiple tortfeasors
A v Hoare 2008 UKHL 6 Tort law; limitation period of personal injuries claims; Limitation Act 1980.

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