Keown v Coventry NHS Trust [2006] 1 WLR 953

Key point

  • The standard of care required under the Occupiers’ Liability Act 1984 can depend on the age and capacity of the trespasser


  • C, a 11-year-old trespasser fell while playing on a fire escape
  • C sued for compensation under the Occupiers’ Liability Act 1984, claiming that the occupier of the building (D) owed him a duty to take reasonable steps to protect him against the danger involved in climbing the fire escape

Held (Court of Appeal)

  • C’s claim failed
  • D did not owe him a duty under OLA 1984

Longmore LJ

  • Whether a danger is attributable to the state of the premises or to the activity carried out by C is ‘a question of fact and degree’ that depends on whether C has the capacity to perceive the danger: [14]
  • Premises which are not dangerous from the point of view of an adult can be dangerous for a child, but it would not be right to ignore a child’s choice to indulge in a dangerous activity in every case merely because he was a child
  • In this case the danger was due to C’s activity not the state of premises since C knew the danger of climbing the fire escape: [14]