Watson v British Boxing Board of Control

Last updated

Watson v British Boxing Board of Control
Royal Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom.svg
Court Court of Appeal of England and Wales
Full case nameMichael Alexander Watson v British Boxing Board of Control Ltd & World Boxing Organisation Inc
Decided19 December 2000
Citation(s)[2001] QB 1134, [2000] EWCA Civ 2116
Transcript(s) transcript at BAILII [1]
Case history
Prior action(s) High Court of Justice
Case opinions
Phillips MR
Court membership
Judge(s) sitting Phillips MR
May LJ
Laws LJ
trespass to the person, duty of care, negligence

Watson v British Boxing Board of Control [2001] QB 1134 was a case of the Court of Appeal of England and Wales that established an exception to the defence of consent to trespass to the person and an extension of the duty of care expected in cases of negligence. Michael Watson was injured in a boxing match supervised by the British Boxing Board of Control (BBBofC or BBBC), which was expected to provide medical care. This care was insufficient, and as such Watson was in a coma for 40 days, and spent 6 years in a wheelchair. After recovering consciousness, he sued the BBBC in negligence, and was awarded approximately £1 million by the High Court of Justice, who determined that the relationship between the BBBC and Watson was sufficient to create a duty of care. This decision was upheld by the Court of Appeal of England and Wales, who noted that the BBBC had a duty not only to ensure that injuries did not occur, but that injuries were properly treated.

Case citation a system for uniquely identifying individual rulings of a court

Case citation is a system used by legal professionals to identify past court case decisions, either in series of books called reporters or law reports, or in a neutral style that identifies a decision regardless of where it is reported. Case citations are formatted differently in different jurisdictions, but generally contain the same key information.

Trespass in English law is an area of tort law broadly divided into three groups: trespass to the person, trespass to goods and trespass to land.

Michael Watson English boxer

Michael Watson, is a British former professional boxer who competed from 1984 to 1991. He held the Commonwealth middleweight title from 1989 to 1991, and challenged three times for a world title between 1990 and 1991. Watson's career was cut short as a result of near-fatal injury sustained during a loss to Chris Eubank for the WBO super-middleweight title in 1991.



Michael Watson was a boxer who, on 21 September 1991, fought Chris Eubank under the supervision of the British Boxing Board of Control (BBBC), the British professional boxing governing body. The BBBC had a series of rules on the medical coverage needed for boxing matches, which required two doctors to be present at all times. During the match Watson was knocked out by Eubank, and it was 7 minutes before doctors attended him; eventually 3 doctors and an ambulance were needed. [2] He was given no oxygen, and first sent to a hospital which lacked a neurosurgery unit. [3] Watson spent 40 days in a coma and 6 years in a wheelchair, with doctors initially predicting that he would never walk again. [4] After recovering consciousness, he sued the BBBC, arguing that because they laid down the rules governing professional boxing that ensured his safety, they owed him a duty of care and should have ensured that he was properly and immediately treated. [2]

Chris Eubank English boxer

Christopher Livingstone Eubank is a British former professional boxer who competed from 1985 to 1998. He held the WBO middleweight and super-middleweight titles between 1990 and 1995, and is ranked by BoxRec as the third best British super-middleweight boxer of all time.

The British Boxing Board of Control (BBBofC) is the governing body of professional boxing in the United Kingdom. It was formed in 1929 from the old National Sporting Club and is headquartered in Cardiff.


The case first went to the High Court of Justice, where Kennedy, J, gave his judgment on 24 September 1999, awarding Watson around £1 million in damages. [3] Kennedy held that there was a "sufficient nexus" between Watson and the BBBC to create a duty of care, and that Watson's consent to the fight (which would normally be considered a defence of volenti non fit injuria ) was not a consent to the inadequate safety measures. [2] The case was then appealed to the Court of Appeal of England and Wales, where a 3-judge panel consisting of Phillips MR, May LJ and Laws LJ delivered their judgment on 19 December 2000. In an opinion read by Phillips MR, the court upheld Kennedy's decision, noting that it "broke new ground". [5] Phillips noted that the BBBC had taken control of medically supervising the sport, and that the duty of care was not just to avoid injuries, but "to ensure that injuries already sustained are properly treated". [6] This was an extension to the previous duty of care under negligence, and also serves as an exception to the rule under trespass to the person that a defendant will not be liable for personal harm caused in sporting matches which the claimant consents to. [7] Paying the compensation granted to Watson, which was eventually reduced to £400,000, led to the BBBC selling their London headquarters and moving to Wales. [8]

High Court of Justice one of the Senior Courts of England and Wales

The High Court of Justice in England is, together with the Court of Appeal and the Crown Court, one of the Senior Courts of England and Wales. Its name is abbreviated as EWHC for legal citation purposes.

Volenti non fit iniuria is a common law doctrine which states that if someone willingly places themselves in a position where harm might result, knowing that some degree of harm might result, they are not able to bring a claim against the other party in tort or delict. Volenti applies only to the risk which a reasonable person would consider them as having assumed by their actions; thus a boxer consents to being hit, and to the injuries that might be expected from being hit, but does not consent to his opponent striking him with an iron bar, or punching him outside the usual terms of boxing. Volenti is also known as a "voluntary assumption of risk".

Sir Anthony Tristram Kenneth May is a British judge.

Related Research Articles

Negligence is a failure to exercise appropriate and or ethical ruled care expected to be exercised amongst specified circumstances. The area of tort law known as negligence involves harm caused by failing to act as a form of carelessness possibly with extenuating circumstances. The core concept of negligence is that people should exercise reasonable care in their actions, by taking account of the potential harm that they might foreseeably cause to other people or property.

In the common law of torts, res ipsa loquitur is a doctrine that infers negligence from the very nature of an accident or injury in the absence of direct evidence on how any defendant behaved. Although modern formulations differ by jurisdiction, common law originally stated that the accident must satisfy the necessary elements of negligence: duty, breach of duty, causation, and injury. In res ipsa loquitur, the elements of duty of care, breach, and causation are inferred from an injury that does not ordinarily occur without negligence.

A tort, in common law jurisdictions, is a civil wrong that causes a claimant to suffer loss or harm resulting in legal liability for the person who commits the tortious act. It can include the intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligence, financial losses, injuries, invasion of privacy, and many other things.

English tort law branch of English law

English tort law concerns the compensation for harm to people's rights to health and safety, a clean environment, property, their economic interests, or their reputations. A "tort" is a wrong in civil, rather than criminal law, that usually requires a payment of money to make up for damage that is caused. Alongside contracts and unjust enrichment, tort law is usually seen as forming one of the three main pillars of the law of obligations.

<i>Rylands v Fletcher</i>

Rylands v Fletcher[1868] UKHL 1 was a decision by the House of Lords which established a new area of English tort law. Rylands employed contractors to build a reservoir, playing no active role in its construction. When the contractors discovered a series of old coal shafts improperly filled with debris, they chose to continue work rather than properly blocking them up. The result was that on 11 December 1860, shortly after being filled for the first time, Rylands' reservoir burst and flooded a neighbouring mine, run by Fletcher, causing £937 worth of damage. Fletcher brought a claim under negligence against Rylands, through which the case eventually went to the Exchequer of Pleas. The majority ruled in favour of Rylands. Bramwell B, however, dissenting, argued that the claimant had the right to enjoy his land free of interference from water, and that as a result the defendant was guilty of trespass and the commissioning of a nuisance. Bramwell's argument was affirmed, both by the Court of Exchequer Chamber and the House of Lords, leading to the development of the "Rule in Rylands v Fletcher"; that "the person who for his own purposes brings on his lands and collects and keeps there anything likely to do mischief if it escapes, must keep it in at his peril, and, if he does not do so, is prima facie answerable for all the damage which is the natural consequence of its escape". No right "to enjoy property" exists in UK black letter law, and it is this decision upon which stare decisis is built in the area.

<i>Bolam v Friern Hospital Management Committee</i>

Bolam v Friern Hospital Management Committee [1957] 1 WLR 582 is an English tort law case that lays down the typical rule for assessing the appropriate standard of reasonable care in negligence cases involving skilled professionals : the Bolam test. Where the defendant has represented him- or herself as having more than average skills and abilities, that is as a professional "as all doctors do", this test expects standards which must be in accordance with a responsible body of opinion, even if others differ in opinion. In other words, the Bolam test states that "If a doctor reaches the standard of a responsible body of medical opinion, he is not negligent".

Ex turpi causa non oritur actio is a legal doctrine which states that a plaintiff will be unable to pursue legal remedy if it arises in connection with his own illegal act. Particularly relevant in the law of contract, tort and trusts, ex turpi causa is also known as the illegality defence, since a defendant may plead that even though, for instance, he broke a contract, conducted himself negligently or broke an equitable duty, nevertheless a claimant by reason of his own illegality cannot sue. The UK Supreme Court provided a thorough reconsideration of the doctrine in 2016 in Patel v Mirza.

In English tort law, an individual may owe a duty of care to another, to ensure that they do not suffer any unreasonable harm or loss. If such a duty is found to be breached, a legal liability is imposed upon the tortfeasor to compensate the victim for any losses they incur. The idea of individuals owing strangers a duty of care – where beforehand such duties were only found from contractual arrangements – developed at common law, throughout the 20th century. The doctrine was significantly developed in the case of Donoghue v Stevenson, where a woman succeeded in establishing a manufacturer of ginger beer owed her a duty of care, where it had been negligently produced. Following this, the duty concept has expanded into a coherent judicial test, which must be satisfied in order to claim in negligence.

Causation in English law concerns the legal tests of remoteness, causation and foreseeability in the tort of negligence. It is also relevant for English criminal law and English contract law.

Occupiers Liability Act 1957 United Kingdom legislation

The Occupiers' Liability Act 1957 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom that covers occupiers' liability. The result of the Third Report of the Law Reform Committee, the Act was introduced to Parliament as the Occupiers' Liability Bill and granted the Royal Assent on 6 June 1957, coming into force on 1 January 1958. The Act unified several classes of visitors to property and the duty of care owed to them by the occupier, as well as codifying elements of the common law relating to this duty of care. It also covered the duty owed to parties to a contract entering the property and ways of excluding the liability for visitors. The Act introduced an element of liability for landlords who failed to maintain their properties and were as a result responsible for the injury of a non-tenant, something counter to the previous common law rule in English law. The Act is still valid law, and forms much of the law relating to occupiers' liability in English law along with the Occupiers' Liability Act 1984.

Occupiers' liability is a field of tort law, codified in statute, which concerns the duty of care owed by those who occupy real property, through ownership or lease, to people who visit or trespass. It deals with liability that may arise from accidents caused by the defective or dangerous condition of the premises. In English law, occupiers' liability towards visitors is regulated in the Occupiers' Liability Act 1957. In addition, occupiers' liability to trespassers is provided under the Occupiers' Liability Act 1984. Although the law largely codified the earlier common law, the difference between a "visitor" and a "trespasser", and the definition of an "occupier" continue to rely on cases for their meaning.

The following outline is provided as an overview of and introduction to tort law:

Occupiers Liability Act 1984 United Kingdom legislation

The Occupiers' Liability Act 1984 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom that covers occupiers' liability for trespassers. In British Railways Board v Herrington 1972 AC 877, the House of Lords had decided that occupiers owed a duty to trespassers, but the exact application of the decision was unclear. The matter was then referred to the Law Commission for a report, and as a result the Occupiers' Liability Bill was introduced to Parliament by Lord Hailsham on 23 June 1983. The Act was given the Royal Assent on 13 March 1984 as the Occupiers' Liability Act 1984 and came into force on 13 May.

Donoghue v Folkestone Properties Limited (2003) is an English court case heard in the Court of Appeal of England and Wales concerning the tort of occupiers' liability from the Occupiers' Liability Act 1984.

Boxing is a popular sport in Wales, and since the early 20th century Wales has produced a notable number of professional boxers including several World Champions. The most notable boxers include Wales' first World Champion Percy Jones; Jimmy Wilde, who is seen as pound-for-pound one of the World's finest boxers and Joe Calzaghe, who ended his career an undefeated World Champion.


  1. Watson & British Boxing Board Of Control Ltd & Anor [2000] EWCA Civ 2116 (19 December 2000), Court of Appeal
  2. 1 2 3 George (2002) p.109
  3. 1 2 Lewis, Mike (15 September 2001). "`Super-boxing' plan for safer, better bouts". The Telegraph . Retrieved 1 April 2010.
  4. Fordyce, Tom (19 April 2003). "BBC Sport - Poignant end to Watson's epic journey". BBC . Retrieved 1 April 2010.
  5. George (2002) p.110
  6. Block (2001) p.168
  7. Bermingham (2008) p.33
  8. Sinclair, Mike (8 November 2001). "Boxing: Board lose fight with Watson". The Telegraph. Retrieved 1 April 2010.


Oxford University Press Publishing arm of the University of Oxford

Oxford University Press (OUP) is the largest university press in the world, and the second oldest after Cambridge University Press. It is a department of the University of Oxford and is governed by a group of 15 academics appointed by the vice-chancellor known as the delegates of the press. They are headed by the secretary to the delegates, who serves as OUP's chief executive and as its major representative on other university bodies. Oxford University has used a similar system to oversee OUP since the 17th century. The Press is located on Walton Street, opposite Somerville College, in the suburb Jericho.

International Standard Book Number Unique numeric book identifier

The International Standard Book Number (ISBN) is a numeric commercial book identifier which is intended to be unique. Publishers purchase ISBNs from an affiliate of the International ISBN Agency.