"The law is not made by boat owners"

In this case I acted for the local authority who owned a canal with mooring facilities leased to the public, mostly used by pleasure craft. The Claimant was the owner of a large (65 foot) motor yacht with a mooring in the canal. The authority closed the canal for bridge repairs without giving reasonable notice to the Claimant and as a result he was unable to take his boat out on a pre-planned holiday.

The local authority admitted breach of contract and the judge found that it was foreseeable that the Claimant might be deprived of his holiday and awarded damages for disappointment.

On appeal the decision was reversed. The judge expressed sympathy for the Claimant saying that any boat owner would consider that he was entitled to damages but, unfortunately for him, the law was not made by boat owners. The mooring contract placed no obligation on the authority to ensure the Claimant's enjoyment of pleasurable amenity and, although that might be one benefit from it, it was not a primary purpose of the agreement. (Watts -v- Morrow and Farley -v- Skinner applied)