Complete the form below to ask us a question or make an enquiry. We’ll get back to you via phone or email as soon as possible.


Tales of the Unexploded: an Interesting View on the Causes of Damage to Land

Posted on 26th February 2024 in Dispute Resolution

Posted by

Joanne Young

Senior Associate & Solicitor
Tales of the Unexploded: an Interesting View on the Causes of Damage to Land

The Exeter Bomb Incident

In February 2021, residents of Exeter had the briefest of glimpses into life almost 80 years ago, when a large unexploded World War II bomb was found by site workers. In the vicinity were various residential properties and several blocks of halls of residence owned by the University. The plans to make the bomb safe were always going to be risky and, alas, the bomb detonated in quite spectacular fashion, causing damage to properties in the vicinity.

The Insurance Claim and the War Exclusion

As you would expect, the University had insurance in place and so made a claim, amongst other things, for the damage caused to its buildings. As is often seen in insurance policies, the University’s policy did not cover situations where loss is caused by ‘war’, with a broad definition given, to include loss “occasioned by war.”

The insurer sought the court’s agreement that it was entitled to refuse the University’s claim, on the basis that the cause of damage had been occasioned by war, albeit a war that concluded over 75 years before. Given that the bomb lay unexploded for so many years, was the damage caused by the dropping of the bomb in the war, or was it the detonation of the bomb that caused the damage here?

The Court of Appeal’s Decision on Concurrent Causes

The Court of Appeal decided that the damage caused to the building had concurrent causes that led to the damage – the dropping of the bomb in wartime and the subsequent detonation years later. Because one of the concurrent causes was subject to the exclusion in the insurance policy, the outcome is that the insurers do not have to pay out under the insurance policy.

The Implications for Land Owners

Admittedly, unexploded bombs are not an everyday occurrence. So does the case have any wider relevance for land owners? In short, yes, although probably (hopefully!) with less dramatic backgrounds. 

The key takeaway is that the case is a useful reminder that, just because damage is caused to your land by a third party, you could still find yourself out of pocket and needing to pay for the damage yourself. The chain of events that led to the damage occurring will be very carefully considered, and damage which has concurrent causes could be even more contentious.

Contact our legal experts

Company & Industry

Related Insights


‘Fake It Till You Make It’: Mitigating AI-Generated Falsified Job Applications

Posted on 12th March 2024 in Employment, Dispute Resolution

‘Fake it till you make it’ is a phrase known to many; it means to act confidently in what you’re doing when you don’t feel it until you achieve your objective. This article considers the risks associated with job applicants using artificial intelligence (AI) to complete recruitment exercises and how it may impact your business.

Posted by

Charlotte Yendell

Trainee Solicitor

The Snow Globe Wars: Aldi’s Appeal Shattered

Posted on 04th March 2024 in Dispute Resolution

There continues to be many widely publicised examples of retailers taking legal action to protect their much-loved products against lookalike products circulating in the market and IP lawyers have been eagerly anticipating the judgment on Aldi’s attempt to overturn the judgment made last year. The result? M&S were victorious as Aldi’s appeal was dismissed by the Court of Appeal.

Posted by

Jessica Whittick