Roles v Nathan [1963] 1 WLR 1117

Key point

  • An occupier can reasonably expect a skilled labourer to guard against risks associated with his profession


  • Two chimney sweeps were killed by carbon monoxide gas while attempting to seal up a sweep hole in the chimney of a coke-fired boiler, the boiler being alight

Held (Court of Appeal)

  • Occupier was not liable for their deaths

Lord Denning MR

  • When a householder calls in a specialist to deal with a defective installation on his premises, he can reasonably expect the specialist to appreciate and guard against the dangers arising from the defect


  • In accordance with s2(3)(b) Occupiers’ Liability Act 1957: “an occupier may expect that a person, in the exercise of his calling, will appreciate and guard against any special risks ordinarily incident to it, so far as the occupier leaves him free to do so”
  • If the stairs leading to the cellar gave out, it would not be incident to the calling of a sweep