HL Deb 16 July 1866 vol 184 cc812-4

Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.


in moving the second reading of this Bill, said, its object was to render the owners of dogs liable by summary process for injuries inflicted by their dogs to persons or property. The measure was founded on the same principle that had been adopted in several Acts recently passed on the subject.

Moved, "That the Bill be now read 2a."—(The Marquess of Clanricarde.)


said, he would offer no opposition to the second reading, although he was of opinion that it would be necessary to alter the Bill very considerably in Committee.


said, he understood that Bills for Ireland, Scotland, England, and Wales had been already passed, imposing liabilities on the owners of dogs which worried sheep, although there had been no want of care on the part of the owners. One of the first principles of the law was that no one should be answerable for injury happening to another person unless some negligence on his part were proved; but the Acts on this subject formed exceptions to the general rule. The present Bill proceeded still further in this wrong direction, because it provided that the owner of a dog should be liable in damages for any injury done by his dog to the person or property of any other person, notwithstanding he had no previous knowledge of any mischievous propensity in the dog, and had not contributed to the injury by any neglect. Therefore, under this measure, if two dogs were to fight, and one of them were injured, the owner of the dog which inflicted the injury would be liable,, without any consideration whether his dog was the one which commenced the fray. Then, again, there might be a cross action, because each of the dogs might be injured, in which event each owner would be entitled to take legal proceedings against the other. A playful dog, intending no mischief, might tear a man's trousers, which would be an injury to property; and the proceedings being by summary process he thought the Bill would tend to increase very considerably the business of magistrates, particularly in the metropolitan districts. Still, as the Legislature had thought proper to go astray with respect to this matter, he supposed he must follow in the same course, and therefore he should not oppose the second reading of the Bill, though when it was in Committee he might make some proposals for the purpose of rectifying too great a violation of the general principle with regard to personal responsibility.


remarked that they had passed a Bill relating to dogs last Session. The Bill was a very good one, and he saw no reason why they should be called on to legislate year after year on the same subject.


strongly objected to the second clause, under which if a dog were to accidentally bite a man, or to tear a man's trousers, the owner would become liable to a summary penalty of —5. He hoped his noble Friend would alter that part of the Bill.


said, that under the present law the owner was liable if it were shown that he knew the dog to be a vicious animal.


said, that might be so, but there was not at present a summary procedure.


supported the Bill, because it was only following out the principle laid down by the Legislature in the measures relating to the worrying of sheep by dogs.

Motion agreed to.

Bill read 2a, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House To-morrow.