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Gregory v Piper – Case Summary

Gregory v Piper [1829] 9 B & C 591

Trespass & Vicarious Liability


Gregory (G) owned a pub called the Rising Sun, which had a stable-yard in the back that could be accessed through a back gate in Old King’s Yard. Piper (P), who owned the property surrounding Old King’s Yard, disputed G’s right to pass through the yard to reach his stable. In order to block G’s access, P hired a labourer (S) to place a pile of debris consisting of bricks, mortar, stones, and dirt near G’s stable-yard. Some of this debris rolled against G’s wall and gates, and G refused to remove it. G brought a legal action for trespassing against P.


The main issue in the case was whether the master (P) could be held liable for the trespassing that occurred as a result of instructions given to someone in his employ (S). P argued that he should not be held liable because he had instructed S not to let the rubbish touch the wall, and the fact that it ended up trespassing on G’s property was due to S’s negligence.


The legal principle is that a master is held liable in trespassing for any act done by his servant while carrying out the master’s instructions with ordinary care. Therefore, P was held liable for the trespassing as it was a probable and foreseeable outcome of the act that P had instructed S to perform. The trespassing was a necessary or natural consequence of the act ordered by P, making P as the employer responsible.

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Answering problem questions in the University of London LLB programme requires a clear understanding of legal principles, good analytical skills and the ability to apply the law to a given set of facts. Here are some tips to help you answer problem questions effectively:

  1. Read the question carefully: Make sure you understand what the question is asking before you begin writing.
  2. Identify the legal issues: Identify the legal issues raised by the facts and the relevant laws that apply to those issues.
  3. Analyze the facts: Analyze the facts presented in the question, focusing on the details that are relevant to the legal issues.
  4. Apply the law: Apply the relevant laws to the facts, making sure to consider all relevant legal principles and cases.
  5. Structure your answer: Use a clear and well-structured approach, starting with an introduction that outlines the main legal issues, followed by a discussion of the relevant laws and a conclusion that summarizes your analysis and sets out your conclusion.
  6. Use relevant cases and statutes: Cite relevant cases and statutes to support your analysis and help illustrate the legal principles you are discussing.
  7. Be concise: Be concise and to the point, focusing on the key issues and avoiding unnecessary detail.
  8. Proofread: Proofread your answer carefully to make sure it is error-free and clear.
  9. Time management: Make sure you manage your time effectively, leaving enough time to review your answer and make any necessary corrections.

By following these tips, you should be able to answer problem questions in the University of London LLB programme effectively and with confidence. Good luck!

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