Beaulieu v Finglam

Beaulieu v Finglam[1] is a landmark and precedent setting case in English tort law.[2][3][4] While specifically it set strict liability for the escape of fire, the judgment also demarcated the limits of responsibility and liability for tort cases. It also established the first ratio of what would become duty of care.[5][6] Though a duty of care with regard to water[6] and animals [7][8][9] had already been established.


‘A man is held to answer for the act of his servant or of his guest ... for if my servant or my guest [accidentally ... burns all my house and the house of my neighbour also, in this case I shall answer to my neighbour for his damage ... But if a man from outside my house and against my will starts a fire .... whereby my house is burned and my neighbours’ houses are burned as well, for this I shall not be held bound to them; for this cannot be said to be done by wrong on my part, but is against my will.’

— Beaulieu v Finglam: 1401 B & M 557[2]


  1. ^ Finglam v Beaulieu[permanent dead link] 1401 B & M 557
  2. ^ a b Beaulieu v Finglam: 1401 B & M 557
  3. ^ Ian Fitzharris Owners of dwelling liable for escape of fire to neighbour’s property arising from negligence of building contractor
  4. ^ Courtney Stanhope Kenny, A Selection of Cases Illustrative of the English Law of Tort (Cambridge University Press, 2014) p589
  5. ^ Sir John Baker, Baker and Milsom Sources of English Legal History:Private Law to 1750 (Oxford University Press, 2nd ed, 2010) 610.
  6. ^ a b Stapleton v Snayth (1354) YB Pas 19, 32b-33a.
  7. ^ Beneyt v Brokkere (1358)
  8. ^ Mason v Keeling (1700) 1 Ld Raym 606; 91 ER 1305.
  9. ^ Malone WS. (1970). Ruminations on the Role of Fault in the History of the Common Law of Torts. Louisiana Law Review.