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Letang v Cooper [1964] EWCA Civ 5 (15 June 1964) is an English Court of Appeal judgment, by which it was decided that negligently caused personal injury cannot be recovered under the trespass to the person, but the tort of negligence must be tried instead.

Letang v Cooper
S S Jaguar drophead coupe 1940 (8679189922).jpg
A Jaguar motor car
CourtCourt of Appeal
Full case nameDoreen Ann Letang v Frank Anthony Cooper
Decided15 June 1964
Citation(s)[1965] 1 QB 232
[1964] EWCA Civ 5
[1964] 2 Lloyd's Rep 339
[1964] 2 All ER 929
Transcript(s)BAILII transcript
Court membership
Judges sittingLord Denning MR, Diplock LJ and Danckwerts LJ
Negligence, personal injury, trespass to the person


Mr Cooper (the defendant) negligently ran over Mrs Letang (the plaintiff) in his Jaguar motor car while she was sunbathing on a piece of grass where cars were parked. The plaintiff filed a claim in trespass to the person, because the claim in negligence was time-barred. Trespass to the person is a tort involving wrongful direct interference with another person and traditionally included both intentional and negligent acts.


The Court of Appeal, consisting of Lord Denning MR, Diplock LJ and Danckwerts LJ, held unanimously that since Mr Cooper's actions were negligent rather than intentional, the statute of limitations barring claims actions for damage caused by negligence applied. Mrs Letang could not recover her damages because her claim was late.


The effect of this case was that an action for trespass to the person can now only be brought for intentional torts, such as assault, battery, false imprisonment, trespass to land or chattels, etc. A claimant wishing to recover damages to his person or property that were caused by the defendant's negligent action must prove all the elements of the tort of negligence. However the decision did not affect actions for trespass to goods. Conversion is still a strict liability tort under English law, and recover does not depend upon establishing negligence.

Lord Denning summarised the change:

See alsoEdit

External linksEdit

  • "Letang v Cooper [1964] EWCA Civ 5 (15 June 1964)". BAILII. Retrieved 6 May 2009.