Keeble v. Hickeringill Case Brief

Summary of Keeble v. Hickeringill
Queen’s Bench, 1707

11 East 574, 103 Eng. Rep. 1127
11 Mod. 74, 130 (as Keble v. Hickringill)
3 Salk. 9 (as Keble v. Hickeringhall)

Statement of Case:

Keeble, the land/pond owner, declares that Hickeringill, the one who scared away the wildfowl, intentionally drove away the wildfowl on his (Keeble) pond intending to damnify him (interference of trade – trespass on the case(action to recover for indirect injuries that result from an indirect trespass) and deprive him of his profit.


-Keeble, at his own cost, put together a decoy pond with decoy ducks, nets, machines and other engines for decoying and taking of actual wildfowl. It was a very beneficial financial source for Keeble.

-Hickeringill, a neighbor of Keeble’s, shot intentionally at Keeble’s decoy pond on two occassions, intentionally scaring away the wild fowl that resided there.


*Whether Hickeringill acted violently or maliciously towards Keeble’s occupation when he intentionally shot at Keeble’s decoy pond trying to scare away the wildfowl and deprive him of his profit?


-Making or using a decoy is legal.

-It is lawful to use art to seduce wild animals and catch them for the use of mankind.


-Where a violent or malicious is done to a man’s occupation, profession, or way of getting a livelihood there an action lies in all cases.

-When someone is working to supplement the markets of the nation, they should be greatly encouraged and commended for their public benefit. They should be able to reap the benefit and have their action.

-The true reason for the action is not to recover damages for the loss of the fowl, but for the disturbance.

-An action lies in this case because Hickeringill is importing damage by coming onto Keeble’s property with bad intentions and firing a gun, interfering with Keeble’s business.


Hickeringill pleaded not guilty, and a verdict was returned in favor of Keeble, awarding him 20 pounds in damages.


*The court is protecting Keeble in this case from Hickeringill, because it states that someone in Keeble’s shoes should be commended for the line of work that he is in. They say that his hunting the wildfowl benefits the public and should be protected from acts of idiocy like those employed by Hickeringill.


2) Constructive Possession: in this case, landowners are regarded as the prior possessors of any wild animals on their land, until the animals take off.

-A way of pretending that whatever word it modifies depicts a state of affairs that actually exists when actually it does not.

**Chief Justice Holt seemed to think that Keeble had constructive possession (by ratione soli) of the ducks in question. He later changed his mind, relying more on the theory from East’s opinion about malicious interference with trade (act in such a way to cause waste).

3) Yes, if it was proven that Post was out doing his job as a hunter and Pierson knew about him “working" then it could be held that Pierson maliciously interfered with Post’s trade, especially since Pierson didnt hunt for a living.


1)ratione soli, and the person(hunter) was trespassing

2)like Ghen v. Rich, it belongs to the person who owned the property where the animal was originally taken (O)

3)P will prevail b/c she purchased them, entitling her to that property.

4)The Gov’t does not own the wildfowl, but may confiscate them when they are taken in violation of regulations.

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