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Wilson v Pringle

Mentioned in Source 4 and Source 6.

Facts and Desisions

As a schoolboy prank, the defendant pulled another 13-year old pupils bag, causing the claimant to fall over and suffer hip injuries. The court held that hostility was a necessary element of an actionable battery. (source 4, lines 7-9)

How did it change the law?

The court held that liability depended on whether the pupil’s actions had been ‘hostile’ and not simply a schoolboy prank. The court, referring to Cole v Turner, held that hostility was a necessary element of an actionable battery. Any ‘hostile touching’ was enough for a battery. (source 4, lines 9-16) The case was heard by the Court of Appeal so was a leading case on those heard in lower courts.

Has it achieved justice in the law?

What is its significance for the developments of the law?

As it was difficult to define what is classed as contact ‘generally acceptable in the ordinary conduct of human life’, this case has managed to define this as hostile touching. This narrowed the law by expanding on Lord Holts description.

References to other cases.

A contrasting case to Wilson v Pringle is Collins v Wilcock as there is conflict whether or not hostility is a requirement. In Collins v Wilcock, a police officer was liable for a battery when she took hold of a suspect’s arm but did not arrest her. Lord Goff felt that here the appropriate test was whether or not the contact was acceptable within the conduct of ordinary daily life. (source 4, lines 23-25)

Another contrasting case is Re F. Lord Goff doubted that ‘hostile touching’ was an adequate definition. He submitted that a better definition was ‘the deliberate touching of another’s body, beyond the bounds of acceptable everyday conduct in the absence of lawful excuse’. (source 4, lines 25-33) This is now the leading case as it was heard by the House of Lords. The author of Source 4 still considers the approach in Re F as an unclear approach (source 4, lines 38-49)

Also —include a discussion of the issue of hostility where C was volenti (source 6 lines 2-5) ie if you consent to an application of force eg in a medical case can the touching ever be described as hostile?  As such is this why the definition in RE F is more appropriate?