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Vaughan v Menlove Case Brief

Vaughan v Menlove, 1832 Eng. Rep. 490  (C.P.1837)


Menlove Vaughn have possession of land in two cottages. He owned and farmed an adjacent parcel in the late summer of 1836. Menlove had harvested his hay and he left it to desiccated in rick or haystack near the boundary with Vaughan’s  land but in the summer heat stack grew warmer it,  soon showed that it might spontaneously ignite . 

Defendant has warned that his haystacks posed considerable risk of igniting and damaging the Plaintiff’s cottages.  But he didn’t take care of this despite this the haystack eventually  caught fire which spread to Vaughan’s land. The hay did ignite and damage Plaintiff’s cottages, and Plaintiff brought suit for negligence.

Vaughn sued Menlove  claiming Menlove’s negligence resulted in Vaughan’s losses.


  • Whether the Defendant had acted honestly and bona fide to the best of his own judgment?
  • Whether under the circumstances the fire was prompted by repellant negligence, and clarified that Defendant was certain to act as a rational man would have?

Rule of Law

The principal for negligence is an impartial one. Under like circumstances, the person has acted in a way contrary to how a rationally prudent person would have acted.


The trial judges instructed the jury that Menlove had a duty to act with a reasonable restraint of a judicious man would exercise  afterward the jury found Menlove liable for the damages. Menlove than enticed to the court of Common.

This case discards the argument that a Defendant’s specific deep feeling or weaknesses should be taken into account in assessing negligence claims. Under similar circumstance somewhat, one must look only to if one has acted as would a reasonably prudent person.


On negligence and liability this case was absolute throughout a provisional period in the history of the common law rule.

Under an obscure contract there was no duty obligatory on the defendant the defense counsel had contended that to be accountable for the implementation of any given extent of care, on common carriers and bailees in deviation to the duty of care levied.

Courts in the early 19th century often establish a negligence prerequisite for liability to occur only for mutual carriers or bailees.

Current day significance

The court apprehended  because of negligence in violation of the reasonable person standard was a proper question for the jury .

And today, the care taken by a practical man has always been the rule laid down; and as to the hypothetical difficulty of applying it, jury has always been able to say, whether, captivating that rule as their guide, there has been negligence.

This case brief has been written by Jagriti Thakur of Lloyd Law College.


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