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Does English law recognise a general defence of necessity?
February 22, 2018
The City of Coventry decided, some time ago, to celebrate its long history with a parade and pageant through the streets of the town on May Day. The parade was to include a rather scantily dressed Lady Godiva, on horseback, as well as characters from the city’s more recent history. Martin, a local businessman, thought it would be a good idea to celebrate his wife Lesley’s birthday in style, so he booked a suite of rooms in the Royal Mercia Hotel for the party, overlooking the route which the parade was expected to take. It was agreed that the hotel would provide food and drink for the party. He paid a deposit of £500, making it clear that he wanted a room to see the procession. There had been a fair bit of agitation against the procession in the city, particularly form a group calling itself “Women Against Exploitation” who regarded the parade as outrageously sexist and called for it to be banned. Two days before it was due to take place, Coventry City Council bowed to pressure and called the entire event off. When Martin heard this, he called the Royal Mercia Hotel and said he was no longer interested in hiring the room. The hotel replied that as far as they were concerned the booking still stood and they would go ahead and provide the catering for Martin’s wife’s birthday as agreed. Martin and his guests did not attend on the day in question. Nevertheless the hotel sent him a bill. He counterclaimed for the return of his deposit. Miss Tessa Smith, who was employed for the day to play the part of Lady Godiva, is suing Coventry City Council for breach of contract. Advise Martin and Coventry City Council.
‘Any sensible occupier will exclude the onerous duty of care that he owes to both visitors and non-visitors as regards his occupation of premises.’ Assess the accuracy of this statement.