Boys will be boys

Orchard v Lee [2009] EWCA Civ 295

From the Solicitors Journal 07/04/09:

The Court of Appeal has ruled that a 13 year-old boy who ran into a dinner lady and seriously injured her during a game of tag in a school courtyard was not liable for negligence.

“13 year-old boys will be 13 year-old boys who will play tag,” Lord Justice Waller said. “They will run backwards and they will taunt each other. If that is what they are doing and they are not breaking any rules they should not be held liable in negligence.

“Parents and schools are there to control children and it would be a retrograde step to visit liability on a 13 year-old for simply playing a game in the area where he was allowed to do so.”

However unfortunate this ‘injured dinnerlady incident’ might be, working with kids is sometimes like this. Thankfully, commonsense prevailed and the law has made no attempt to curtail children playing what must one of the oldest games ever devised. Of course children have a duty not to do utterly ridiculous acts (generally speaking) but they also must be afforded the freedom to play and enjoy childhood games unencumbered by regulatory shackles. This is surely the correct decision, no matter how you slice it.  And besides, from what I remember, dinnerladies are generally officious enough as it is, without the law purporting to feed their power trips any further.

But seriously, this kind of thing goes with the territory of being a dinner lady.  My message is simple; Working with children can be (occasionally) dangerous. If in doubt, don’t work with them!



  1. I loose patience with cases like this. Ms Dinner Lady no doubt thought her financial gravy train had arrived, and for this I blame all those ludicrous ambulance chasing ads bombarding us with depressing and increasing frequency. An entirely fair decision, I think.

  2. Definitely agree with you there, Minxy. :-)
    Good to hear from you - you've been pretty quiet in the blawgosphere recently (by your usual standards anyway).

  3. 13 year old boys running around playing tag? I thought they were all getting 16 year olds pregnant and working on collecting ASBOs?

    Agree it was the right decision too :)

  4. Yeah, that did occur to me when I was writing the post. Like you say, many 13 year old boys would be playing some jiggery pokery with schoolgirls or else holding dinner ladies at gunpoint for drugs money. Hit whilst playing tag seems to pale into insignificance.

  5. Thanks Michael. I have been trying to chase down six WEEKS of work that I lost when I lost a Data Stick at the Local Seat of Learning , a soul destroying process, to be sure - and that's without Stargate - er, I mean the Pupillage Portal!!!!

  6. Yeah, I remember reading your blog post about that. Must have been awful! Hope you're managing to get some of that content back.

  7. Thank god for common sense. working with school boys should speak for itself.

    Besides if we stopped kids running round playing games, we'd have an even greater obesity problem on our hands. Least now its only the chips being handed out by the dinner lady that's the problem.

  8. one of the good things about waller lj is that he is a human being not just a judge. a sensible, practical judgment and the sort of thing that should increase public confidence in the court system.

  9. Good point about the obesity crisis, Travis. I'd not thought about it from that angle but it's yet another reason why this was absolutely the right decision.

    Wise words indeed, Simply Wondered! :-)

  10. bloody hell - i must be getting old. more bachman turner overdrive, mate!

  11. Riiiiight... whatever the hell all of that meant?? :-$



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