Welsh v Brady  CSIH 60 PD348/07
Extra Division, Inner House, Court of Session
Opinion dated 9th July 2009
Mrs Welsh needed surgery on her knee after a Labrador dog collided with her in Wellbank, Angus, in 2005. She claimed £160,000 from the labrador’s owner, Neil Brady, but a judge in the Outer House of the Court of Session had ruled against her on the basis that it had been a pure accident. Mrs Welsh appealed to the Inner House of the Court of Session.
The appeal, heard by Lord Nimmo Smith, Lady Dorrian and Sir David Edward QC, considered possible liability of the keeper of an animal under the Animals (Scotland) Act 1987. The Act provides that a person will be liable for injury or damage caused if the animal belongs to a species which is generally likely to seriously injure or kill or cause damage to property. Sir David said the question for the appeal judges became: “Are fully grown black labradors, by virtue of their physical attributes or habits, likely, unless controlled or restrained, to injure severely or kill persons or animals?”
The dog involved in the incident was a labrador bitch who weighed 25kg. She was described as large, lively and boisterous. She was considered excitable but not aggressive, although she did not always respond to commands to return to her owner.
Sir David said that Mrs Welsh’s counsel, Colin MacAulay QC, had “sought valiantly” to persuade them that there was evidence to show that labradors could be dangerous, but he said the appeal judges considered it “fell far short” of what was required to meet the legal test of strict liability and his arguments went no distance at all towards demonstrating that black Labradors are, by virtue of their physical attributes or habits, likely to injure severely or kill persons or animals. The appeal was therefore rejected.
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