The Common Law Lives

I hope that all members of Slaw are as pleased as I am to note that the British Columbia Supreme Court has recently applied the law of distress damage feasant in upholding (at least partly) the claims of the University of British Columbia to be able to charge those who illegally park on the campus. See Barbour v. University of British Columbia (2009), 310 D.L.R. (4th) 130. The battles between students and the parking police and towing company in my time at UBC were legendary. The cry was “Buck Fusters!”; the towing company being called “Busters”!

There was story that Harry Street, the noted torts scholar, successfully levied distress damage feasant on a Nottingham Corporation bus which trespassed on his lawn. The Corporation’s employees were apparently unaware that they could not recover their bus without paying compensation.

Keep these examples in mind when the next bus or car or whatever lands on your property, provided always that it causes damage.


  1. Though it’s fascinating to me that BC counsel didn’t cite the English cases on this topic Arthur v Anker [1997] QB 564 and Vine v Waltham Forest London Borough Council [2000] 1 WLR 2383, both of which deal with car clamping, parking regulations and distress damage feasant. Perhaps English cases aren’t as appealing as they once were.

    And I think you’re wrong on Harry Street’s lawn – the bus was on Professor Street’s father’s lawn.

    And the extension to buses wasn’t as extraordinary as it might have been thought: fishing equipment here, grain and straw, a locomotive, and parked cars on private land were all the subject of heated debate on the doctrine’s application.

  2. I stand corrected on Harry Street. I knew that I would get a response from you, Simon. Thank you for not disappointing me.