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Haley v. London Electricity Board

House of Lords
3 All ER 185 (1964)


Haley (plaintiff), a blind man living in London, was employed as a telephonist. Haley would sometimes leave home unaccompanied, walk about a hundred yards, cross the street with help, and then board a bus. He used a walking stick to avoid obstacles. One October morning, workers from the London Electricity Board (defendant) had dug a trench in the sidewalk. The workers placed signs to warn pedestrians of the trench. The workers also placed an obstacle in front of the trench. The obstacle was a long handle, like a broomstick, placed eight or nine inches above the ground. For comparison, a project by the Post Office had a fence two feet high. The London Electricity Board workers had given adequate warning to ordinary people with good sight; the warning was not adequate for those who were blind. Haley’s walking stick missed the obstacle, and he tripped. Haley fell into the hole, struck his head, and became deaf. Haley sued, and ultimately the matter was appealed to the House of Lords.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Reid, J.)

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