Nightclub attack case fails to meet high standards

Crosby v Regency Security Services (Colchester County Court - 18 May 2006)

In February 2002, the claimant and some friends attended a nightclub in Colchester. During the evening, the claimant was the victim of a vicious and unprovoked attack by a Mr Eels. Mr Eels was found guilty of grievous bodily harm and imprisoned for four years.

The claimant alleged that the defendant, the security company employed by the owners of the club, was negligent in allowing Mr Eels into the club when he had been verbally abusive to the claimant while in the queue to enter.

The claimant and his friends had been at the front of the queue when Mr Eels and a group of his friends approached, and Mr Eels accused the claimant of being present when his brother had been assaulted on a previous occasion.

The senior doorman intervened but allowed all parties to enter when Mr Eels assured him there would not be any trouble.

While in certain circumstances a defendant may be held liable for the deliberate actions of a stranger, the court referred to several authorities that established the wrongdoing must be 'likely' rather than merely 'foreseeable'.

The court held that the high standard that the claimant had to show to succeed had not been met and the claim was dismissed. The senior doorman had acted reasonably in assuming Mr Eels would not cause trouble.


The courts are reluctant to hold someone liable for the deliberate wrongdoing of another where no special relationship exists (such as an employer/employee relationship), unless such wrongdoing was likely given the particular set of circumstances. Zoe Mills, BLM London

These law reports are contributed by national law firm Berrymans Lace Mawer (

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