List of cases involving Lord Denning

List of cases involving Lord Denning

A list of cases involving Lord Denning is bound to be incomplete, since he delivered around 2000 reported judgments. Lord Denning served as a judge for nearly 40 years, from 1944 to 1982. He often played a decisive role in developing the law and was influential around the Commonwealth and common law world.



  • L'Estrange v F Graucob Ltd [1934] 2 KB 394

High Court

  • Fletcher v Fletcher [1945] 1 All ER 582, 61 TLR 354, Denning approves the divorce of a husband who deserted wife by withdrawing sexual intercourse and joining a religious community.
  • Central London Property Trust Ltd v High Trees House Ltd [1947] KB 130, Denning resurrects the lost doctrine of promissory estoppel.

Court of Appeal

  • Metropolitan Borough and the Town Clerk of Lewisham v Roberts [1949] 2 K.B. 608 (C.A.) — Dissenting, an executive body should not be allowed to gain title of a man's land if only possession was required for their purpose.
  • Solle v Butcher [1950] 1 KB 671, introducing equitable mistake, whereby a contract may be voidable if both parties have made a serious mistake
  • Leaf v International Galleries [1950] 2 KB 86
  • Candler v Crane, Christmas & Co [1951] 2 KB 164, on negligent misstatement, later adopted by the House of Lords in Hedley Byrne v Heller
  • Errington v Errington (1951) KB, creating the equitable doctrine of "part performance" to save an incomplete contract.
  • Combe v Combe (1952), elaborating stance on promissory estoppel, calling it a "shield", not a "sword".
  • R v Northumberland Compensation Tribunal, ex parte Shaw (1952)
  • Hoenig v Isaacs [1952] EWCA Civ 6 i
  • Barnard v National Dock Labour Board (1953)
  • Frederick E Rose (London) Ltd v William H Pim Junior & Co Ltd [1953] 2 QB 450
  • Drive-Yourself-Hire v Strutt [1953] 2 All ER 1475
  • Roe v Minister of Health [1954] 2 All ER 131
  • Ladd v Marshall [1954] EWCA Civ 1
  • Entores Ltd v Miles Far East Corporation [1955] 2 All ER 493 — Decides that the "moment of acceptance" in a contract using a telex (electronic communication) happens on the receiver's side.
  • Ward v Byham (1956)
  • Hornal v Neuberger [1956]
  • J Spurling Ltd v Bradshaw [1956] 1 WLR 461

House of Lords

  • Fairweather v St Marylebone Property Co Ltd [1963] AC 510 (decided 16 April 1962, the last case in the HL) concerning adverse possession

Master of the Rolls

  • In re Smith or Barclays Bank Ltd v Mercantile Bank Ltd [1962] 1 WLR 763, decided on May 1, 1962, reversed the decision of Wilberforce J that a trust requiring trustees to give money to "hospitals" could be construed as "non-profit" hospitals, so was not void for uncertainty.
  • Boulting v Association of Cinematograph, Television and Allied Technicians [1963] 2 QB 606, dissenting over a closed shop agreement and managers refusing to pay union fees
  • Roles v Nathan [1963] 1 WLR 1117, occupiers' liability case on chimney sweeps.
  • Letang v Cooper [1964] 2 All ER 292
  • Southam v Smout [1964] 1QB 308
  • Ward v James [1965]
  • D & C Builders Ltd v Rees [1965] 2 QB 617, To resolve a debt there must be "accord and satisfaction" where the agreement cannot be made under duress.
  • Beswick v Beswick [1966] Ch 538, Denning allows a poor widow to reclaim the assets of her late husband when it was taken from her husband's nephew (disapproved in [1968] AC 58).
  • Morris v CW Martin & Sons Ltd [1966] 1 QB 716
  • Wheat v E Lacon & Co Ltd [1966] 1 All ER 582; defines "occupier" for the purposes of Occupiers' Liability Act 1957.
  • Boardman v Phipps [1965] Ch 992, on the strict application of the no conflict of interest rule for trustees, affirmed by the House of Lords.
  • ER Ives Investments Ltd v High [1967] 2 QB 379
  • Gallie v Lee [1968] 2 All ER 322
  • O’Brien v Associated Fire Alarms Ltd [1969] 1 WLR 1916
  • Torquay Hotel Co Ltd v Cousins [1969] 2 Ch 106, on the new economic tort of "interference with a contract"
  • Gould v Gould [1970] 1 QB 275, dissenting on the idea that a husband's promise to help out his wife "as long as [he is] able" should be enforceable.
  • Hinz v Berry [1970] 2 QB 40, on the recoverability of damages for nervous shock. Denning's judgment began with the words, "It happened on April 19, 1964. It was bluebell time in Kent."
  • Lewis v Averay (1971), the purchaser of stolen goods should not bear the costs of re-embursing the victim of theft.
  • Thornton v Shoe Lane Parking Ltd [1971] 2 QB 163
  • Nettleship v Weston [1971] 3 All ER 581, a learner driver must exercise the skill of an experienced driver to avoid liability in negligence.
  • WJ Allan & Co v El Nasr Export & Import Co [1972] 2 QB 189
  • Fuller v Fuller [1973] 1 WLR 730, changed divorce law. Married couples are only cohabiting if they are living with each other as husband and wife.
  • Spartan Steel & Alloys Ltd v Martin & Co (Contractors) Ltd [1973] 1 QB 27, concerning the recovery of pure economic loss in negligence.
  • Jarvis v Swans Tours Ltd [1973] QB 233
  • Lloyds Bank Ltd v Bundy (1975) QB
  • Courtney and Fairbairn Ltd v Tolaini Brothers (Hotels) Ltd [1975] 1 All ER 716, a contract cannot have terms that are to be negotiated on at a later point.
  • British Crane Hire Corporation Ltd v Ipswich Plant Hire Ltd [1975] QB 303
  • Liverpool City Council v Irwin [1976] UKHL 1
  • Anton Piller KG v Manufacturing Processes Limited [1976] Ch 5
  • Rose v Plenty [1976] 1 WLR 141
  • Miller v Jackson [1977] QB 966, that cricket was in the public interest and stray cricket balls were not a nuisance.
  • Esso Petroleum Co Ltd v Mardon [1976] QB 801, representations made by parties with expert knowledge and experience are warranties in a contract.
  • British Railways Board v Customs and Excise Comrs [1977] STC 221, [1977] 2 All ER 873, zero rating for VAT purposes is a question of law not fact.
  • Parsons (Livestock) Ltd v Uttley Ingham & Co Ltd [1978] QB 791
  • Butler Machine Tool Co Ltd v Ex-Cell-O Corp Ltd [1979] 1 All ER, battle of the forms case, where Denning argued the mirror image rule for offer and acceptance is outdated.
  • Brikom Investments v Carr [1979]
  • Quennell v Maltby [1979] WLR 318, asserted that equity conferred a wide, previously unrecognised, discretion to restrain the mortgagee from exercising the right to possession for purposes other than the protection or enforcement of his security.
  • Photo Productions v Securicor Ltd [1980] All ER 556
  • Ahmad v United Kingdom (1982) 4 EHRR 126
  • Attorney General of New Zealand v Ortiz [1982] 3 WLR 570; [1982] 3 All ER 432, beautiful scene setting description of the Maori treasure at the heart of this case.

See also

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