Am I responsible for my child’s actions – and what about my dog?

4th June 2021 Commercial Litigation

Now that Summer has finally arrived and Covid-19 restrictions have eased, children can once again go outside to play with one another but what if, during a water fight, a mobile phone which one of the children has becomes damaged? Is the parent of the child who threw the water balloon liable to pay compensation?

What if that parent’s dog knocks over one of the children and their property is damaged? The answers can all be found in a curiously convenient case of North v Wood [1914].

In this case, a Defendant’s 17-year-old daughter bought and owned a dog, which was known to be vicious. The dog attacked and killed a valuable dog belonging to Mr North, the Claimant. A damages claim was brought against Mr Wood, but the court decided that he was not liable to pay damages for the loss of Mr North’s dog. Because although Mr Wood’s daughter was responsible to Mr North, as the owner of the dog, Mr Wood was not vicariously liable for the actions of his daughter.

So the short answer is that you are responsible for the actions of your pets and a claim can be brought for any damage caused by them, but a parent is not liable for the actions of their children.

Therefore, it is much safer for the children to leave their phones and other valuables at home, especially when having a water fight.  

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Oliver Wright is a Partner located in Manchesterin our Commercial Litigation department

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Savanna Nolan is a Trainee Solicitor located in Manchesterin our Trainee Solicitors department

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