Le Lievre v Gould [1893] 1 Q.B. 491

building, exlusive possession, possession , premises

Le Lievre v Gould [1893] 1 Q.B. 491 is a Tort Law case concerning negligence and duty of care.


The plaintiffs were the mortgagees, who pursuant to the building agreement, paid the mortgage money in instalments at different stages in the progress of the building relying on the certificates that the defendant surveyor produced about the progress of the building. However, the claimants later found out the the statements that the surveyor made in the certificates were untrue. Since there was no fraud on the surveyor’s part, the claimants brought an action against him for negligence.


Did the surveyor owe the duty of care to the claimant despite the fact that there was no contractual relationship between the two parties?


The Court of Appeal found for the defendant surveyor. In Le Lievre v Gould, the Court held the defendant did not owe the mortgagees duty of care, therefore, their claim in negligence failed. As per Lord Esher: ‘liability for negligence cannot arise at all until it is established that the man who has been negligent owed some duty to the person who seeks to make him liable for his negligence. What duty is there when there is no relation between the parties by contract? A man is entitled to be as negligent as he pleases towards the whole world if he owes no duty to them.’

References: [1893] 1 Q.B. 491, [1893] 2 WLUK 6

Keywords: mortgagees, duty of care

Read our notes on Tort of Negligence and see other cases for more information.