HC Deb 20 January 1959 vol 598 cc20-1
37. Mr. D. Jones

asked the Attorney-General if he will introduce legislation to define the liabilities of farmers in the event of accidents on the highway involving motorists and stock straying on the highway after dark.

The Attorney-General

No. I think the law is sufficiently clear. Decided cases establish beyond question that occupiers of adjacent land are under no duty to prevent animals from escaping on to the highway.

Mr. Jones

Is it not a fact that a motorist who, through no fault of his own, has his motor car damaged by a straying animal on the highway while he is driving along has no redress against the farmer at all and has to claim from his own insurance company, thus losing any no-claim bonus which years of careful driving may have built up?

The Attorney-General

It may well be that, under the law as it now stands, a motorist cannot recover if he collides with an animal on the highway.

Mr. Beswick

Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman aware that in my constituency, which is in the Metropolitan area, there have been within the last year two cases of motor cars being overturned after collision with runaway horses? Is it not a fact that, under the present law, there is no liability on the owner of those horses, and will the right hon. and learned Gentleman therefore consider whether the law could be changed?

The Attorney-General

The Question relates to horses straying on the highway, not runaway horses—a very different thing. As regards animals straying on the highway, the common law has been the same for a very long time. I do not know the facts of the cases to which the hon. Gentleman refers, but if they were animals which strayed on to the highway there would, of course, be no liability.

Mr. J. Griffiths

If they run away, what are they doing if not straying?

The Attorney-General

There are horses which run away without straying.