Scott v Shepherd

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Citation: Scott v Shepherd 3 Wils KB 403.

This information can be found in the supplementary materials to LAWS1052 - Introducing Law & Justice.


Background facts

  • The Defendant [Shepherd] threw a lighted gunpowder squib (a small explosive firework) onto a market stall owned by a man [Yates].
  • To prevent injury to himself and to Yates’ wares, a man named Willis picked up the squib from Yates’s stall and threw it onto another stall, owned by a man named Ryall.
  • Ryall threw the squib away from his stall and it exploded in the Plaintiff’s [Scott] face, putting out one of his eyes.


  • The Defendant argued that due to the fact that the squib was thrown by two other people he was not liable in trespass because it was not a direct act.

Legal issues


  • The Defendant’s act was direct and not consequential. Willis’ and Ryall’s acts were merely a continuation of the defendant’s act.
  • The acts of intermediaries arising directly and naturally out of the first act are a continuation of the defendant’s initial act.
    • 'The terror impressed upon Willis and Ryall excited self-defence and deprived them of the power of recollection. What they did was therefore inevitable consequences of the defendant’s unlawful act'.


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