Duty of care Analysis Paper

A tort is a species? , ? , of civil injury or wrong. The distinction between civil and criminal wrongs depends on the nature of the appropriate remedies provided by law. A civil wrong is one which gives rise to civil proceedings which have as their purpose the enforcement of some right claimed by the plaintiff as against the defendant. Criminal proceedings, on the other hand, are those which have for their object the punishment of the defendant for some act of which he is accused. ( p8 Salmond ).

The Law of torts is concerned with those situations where the conduct of one party causes or threatens harm to the interests of other parties. ( p3 Street on Torts ) The difference between a claim in tort and contract The function and the anomalies, ??? of torts as a system of loss distribution in society are illustrated when we consider the overall provision made for the compensation of personal injuries that means whether the victim can successfully in establishes that his injuries are someone else’s “fault ?? , ?? “.

As for contracts, the claim is on compensation??, on breach of the contract between contracting parties, the remedies available are: 1. Damages ???? 2. Rescission ?? 3. Specific Performance ???? 4. Injunction ??? 5. Rectification?? As for torts, the general remedies are: 1. Damages 2. Self-help, eg distress ?? damage feasance??????? 3. Injunction 4. Specific Restitution?? , ?? , of Property *Note that in civil law system, like France, there is no difference between contract and torts, they place the concept of breach of obligation which cause resulting damages to others. How to classify torts.

We may classify torts in various heads, one kind of grouping by Harry Street: 1. Tort of Negligence 2. Tort of Strict Liability ?????? 3. Intentional???? Torts (which include trespass to person, good, land. Also interference with economic interests, deceit, intimidation, passing off and intellectual property interest) @ Duty of Care????? in Neglience Elements of Negligence : 1. Duty of care 2. Breach of that duty 3. Subsequent damages * The Neighbour Principle in Duty of Care Donoghue v Stevenson 1932 AC 562 – A friend purchased a bottle of ginger beer for the plaintiff at a cafe.

The plaintiff poured some of the contents into a tumbler and drank them, then she poured the remainder and out of the bottle floated a decomposed snail??. The plaintiff suffered severe shock and become very ill. She sued the manufacturer in negligence as a consequence. – Held: There was no contractual duty between the plaintiff and the manufacturer but the manufacturer of an article or of food or medicine or the like was under a legal duty to the ultimate consumer or purchaser to take reasonable care so that the article was free from defect??

, to cause injury to health. – Lord Atkin : ” You must take reasonable care to avoid acts or omissions which you can reasonably foresee would be likely to injure your neighbour. Who then in law is my neighbour ? The answer seems to be persons who are so closely and directly affected by my act that I ought reasonably to have them in contemplation?? , as being so affected when I am directing my mind to the acts or omissions which are called in question. ” * The Close Proximity Rule Anns v Merton 1977.

– X & Y wanted to sue the local authority, whether their action could succeed depends on whether they could establish that the local authority owns them a duty of care and had been in breach of that duty. The judgement of Lord Wilberforce in Anns v London Borough of Merton 1977 become relevant in the situation. He said “There was a situation of proximity between the council and P; this was not based on the neighbourhood principle because this would neglect the fact that a local authority is a public body with powers and duties definable in terms of public not private law.

The exercise of a statutory power did not exclude the common law duty of care”. When an authority is exercising a statutory?????? power, it will enjoy a degree of discretion and is not bound to carry it out but may do so. On the facts of the case, once the council had decided to act in pursuance?? , ?? of its statutory power, it would then be liable if , while carrying out that decision, it failed to exercise reasonable care to secure that the foundations were complying with the regulations.

New Development of Duty of Care : The principle control device in English law for negligence was the requirement that the defendant owe?? , to the plaintiff a duty of care, this requirement was not a general principle until the judgment of Brett MR in the case Heaven v Pender 1883 11 QBD 503. At that stage in the common law development, the tort of negligence was applicable to damage caused in certain particular circumstances such as road accidents, but was not a principle of general application.

The innovation in the judgment of Brett MR was that he sought to formulate a general principle for identifying whether or not a duty of care existed, a principle which could be applied to new situations as well as to the traditional categories. Until the famous case of Donoghue v Stevenson 1932 AC 562 (above) that a general principle (the Neighbour Principle) was firmly established for determining the existence of a duty of care. In the landmark case of Hedley Byrne v Heller 1964 AC 465, the House of Lords extended liability for negligent misstatement???? ,, ie a wider ambit??, of liability in negligence in appropriate cases.

This development of a general principle which could be applied to all cases was taken a stage further in the judgement of Lord Wilberforce in Anns v Merton London Borough Council 1978 AC 728, which is now known as the two stage test approach : 1. whether there is a sufficient relationship of proximity?? , ?? , using Lord Atkin’s neighbour principle to give rise to a duty of care between the parties ? , 2. if yes, whether there are any considerations which ought to negative, or to reduce or limit the scope??, of the duty or the class of person to whom it is owned or the damages to which a breach of it may give rise ?

[in this case, the answer to one was yes but to two was no —> liable] This two-stage test was in many ways a high-water mark, it provided a principle which could be applied to all cases and the effect of its application was to expand considerably the boundaries?? , of the tort of negligence, but it has since come under heavy fire both from the judiciary???? and academics: *Lord Keith in Governors of the Peabody Donation Fund v Sir Lindsay Parkinson & Co. Ltd 1985 AC 210 “.

A relationship of proximity in Lord Atkin’s sense??must exist before any duty of care can arise, but the scope of the duty must depend on all the circumstances of the case … so in determining whether or not a duty of care of particular scope was incumbent????? , upon a defendant it is material to take into consideration whether it is just and reasonable that it should be so. ” *Oliver LJ stated in Leigh and Sillivan Ltd v Aliakmon Shipping Co. Ltd 1986 AC 785 (HL) that it was not correct to regard Anns as establishing some new and revolutionary test of the duty of care, the logical application of which is going to enable the court in every case to say whether or not a duty of care exists.

*Lord Keith in Yen Kun-Yeu v AG of Hong Kong 1988 AC 175 said that Lord Wilberforce’s approach `had been elevated to a degree of importance greater than it merits, and greater perhaps than its author intended’ * Finally, in Murphy v Brentwood District Council 1990 3 WLR 414, Lord Keith stated that he considered that the incremental approach adopted by Brennan J in the High Court of Australia in Council of the Shire of Sutherland v Heyman 1985 157 CLR 424 was preferable to the two stage test adopted by Lord Wilberforce in Anns, which is overruled.

Murphy v Brentwood : – In 1970, Plaintiff purchased from a house on an in-fill concrete raft foundation, the plans and calculations for the foundation were submitted to the local council for building regulation approval. – The council referred the plans and calculations to consulting engineers for checking and on their recommendation approved the design under the building regulations and by laws. – Serious cracks in the house as the foundation was defective, cannot repair and plaintiff sold the house below market value. – sue the Council for negligence.

*Held (by HL) : When carrying out its statutory functions of exercising control over building operations a local authority was not liable in negligence to a building owner or occupier for the cost of remedying a dangerous defect in the building which resulted from the negligent failure of the authority to ensure that the building was designed or erected in conformity with the applicable standards prescribed by the building regulations. *Note : Their Lordships had no doubt, however, that a builder could be liable in negligence under the ordinary principle of Donoguue v Stevenson.

It is specifically left open the question whether the Local Council is liable if personal injury or physical damage to other property is caused by the foundation. The Incremental ??? Approach : I. Where a duty of care has been imposed in an earlier precedent?? , ?? case a court will be more inclined?? to impose a duty unless the analogy?? , is not properly drawn. II. Where the precedent cases are against the recognition of a duty of care a court will be reluctant to impose a duty unless is convinced??? that , reasoning incrementally and by reference to the precedents, an extension of the scope of liability is justified.

**If no precedents?? , ?? ? — three factors are employed : 1. the loss must be reasonably foreseeable 2. there must be a `proximate relationship’ between the P & D. 3. it must be `fair just and reasonable’ that the law should impose a duty of a given scope on one party for the benefit of the other. @ Professional Negligence Hedley Byrne v Heller & Partners Ltd [1963] 2 AER 575 – H ,advertising agents, booked advertising time for customers E. – becoming doubtful of the financial position of E. – asked the banker of E for a report.

– Defendant believed E `to be respectably constituted and considered good for its normal business engagements and that E would not undertake any commitments they were unable to fulfil’ – three months later, another written report responding to a further enquiry as to whether E were trustworthy???? to the extent of one hundred pounds per annum advertising contract. – reply in a letter headed `Confidential. For your private use and without responsibility on the part of this bank or its officials’ … ` Respectably constituted company, considered good for its ordinary business engagements.

Your figures are larger than we are accustomed to see’ – H relied on these statements and as a result they lost money when E went into liquidation. Lord Morris in Hedley Byrne v Heller 1964 :” if someone possessed of a special skill undertakes, quite irrespective?? of contract, to apply that skill for the assistance of another person who relies upon such skill, a duty of care will arise” Note that not every negligent misstatement give rise to action, the reliance by the inquirer must be likely and reasonable. Pure Economic Loss and Negligent Statements.

Economic loss is the loss of money which result from or consequential to physical damage to the plaintiff or his property. This type of loss is recoverable. Eg. in Donogue v Stevenson, P could have recovered lost earnings and medical expenses. Pure economic loss is the loss which is not consequential?? …?? to physical injury or damage to property, ie there is not a clear link of physical harm. This type of loss is generally not recoverable, unless there are some other factors. The distinction between the two is difficult to make, the following are good illustrations :

Spartan Steel V Martin [1972] – P had a factory manufacturing stainless steel – Due to D’s Negligence, electricity supply was cut out 14 hours – metal solidified?? in the factory’s furnace?? , loss include : 1. the reduction in value of the solidified “melt” and the loss of profit associated with that “melt” —> recoverable 2. the loss of profits on four further “melt” which could have been processed before the electricity was restored —> NO ! L. Denning: only truly consequential loss was recoverable???.

A power cut of this nature was the type of thing we must put up with and either insure against such loss or use a stand by system. Muirhead v Industrial Tank Specialities [1986] QB 507 – P bought tanks for storage of life lobsters?? , – motor of pump??? , was defective — supplied by D, manufacturer 1. costs of repair —> recoverable 2. damage for dead lobsters and profit from their death –> yes 3. loss of future loss resulting from the malfunctioning of the motors –> pure economic loss, not recoverable *Negligent Misstatements by Professionals ?

The loss are pure economic in nature ! *The rule in Hedley byrne v Heller [1963] is there must be a duty to take care in making negligent statements even the loss in question was pure economic in nature. The requirements for imposing such liability are : 1. there must be a communication from D to P (or agent of either) 2. there must be a special relationship between P and D, reasonable that his statement would likely be acted upon Thus, such liability is limited to professional advisers, eg. accountants, valuers ????? , lawyers, surveyors??? , architects??? , etc.

Also, reasonable that the statement be relied on by P. Caparo Industries plc v Dickman [1990] 1 AER 568 – P, shareholders of F Co. , launched?? , ?? , take-over bid for F after receiving a copy a annual audit which had been sent to all the shareholders and prepared by D. – P claimed that D had negligently over-valued assets of F Co. They had suffered pure economic loss, ie paying too high a price for the taking over of F Co. – Held : D owed no duty of care, it was necessary for P to prove : 1. D had to be fully aware??? of the nature of transaction contemplated?? by P;

2.realize?? , that the statements would be communicated, ?? to P; 3. know that D would rely?? , on it in deciding to carry out that transaction. Per L. Bridge ” The situation is entirely different where a statement is put into more or less general circulation?? , ?? and may foreseeable be relied on by strangers to the maker of the statement for any one of a variety of different purposes which the maker of the statement has no specific reason to anticipate?? , ” *This case reflects the long policy consideration that to open the floodgate of damages has to be avoided.

To determine whether a duty should be imposed upon the defendant, the consideration is whether it would be just and reasonable to do so. Morgan Crucible & plc v Hill Samuel Bank & Ors [1991] 1 AER 148 (CA) On 6 December 1985 the plaintiff company announced a take-over bid for another company, FCE. At that date the recent published financial statements of FCE were its report and accounts for the years ended 31 January 1984 and 1985, which had been audited by a firm of accountants, and an un-audited interim statement for the six months to July 1985.

Before the bid the chairman of the plaintiff asked the chairman of FCE to confirm a profit forecast?? for the year to 31 January 1986 but received no reply. The formal offer document was sent on 17 December. On 19 December the chairman of FCE sent to FCE shareholders the first of a number of circulars, all of which were also issued as press releases by the merchant bank advising FCE. The chairman of FCE compared the profit record of the plaintiff unfavourable with that of FCE and recommended that the offer be refused. Further circulars followed on 31 December, 8 January 1986 and 17 January.

All the documents expressly or impliedly referred to the earlier financial statements and the circular of 31 December announced that they were available for inspection. A Circular dated 24 January 1986 forecast a 38% increase in profits before tax in the year to 31 January 1986. That circular included a letter from the accountants stating that the profit forecast had been properly complied in accordance with FCE’s stated accounting policies and a letter from the bank expressing the opinion that the forecast had been made after due and careful inquiry.

On 29 January the plaintiff increased its bid and on 31 January the board of FCE sent a further circular recommending acceptance. On 14 February the bid was declared unconditional. The plaintiff subsequently claimed that the accounting policies adopted in the pre-bid financial statement and the profit forecast had been negligently prepared and were misleading and had the effect of grossly overstating the profits of FCE and that FCE was worthless at the time the bid was made with the result that if the plaintiff had known the true facts it would never have made the bid, let alone increase it.

The plaintiff issued a writ against the bank, the accountants and the chairman and directors of FCE alleging that it was foreseeable that the plaintiff would rely on the representations contained in the pre-bid financial statements and the profit forecast. The plaintiff subsequently applied to amend its statement of claim to allege that its actual materialisation as a bidder created the necessary relationship of proximity which gave rise to the duty of care owed by the defendants to the plaintiff. The defendants contended that the proposed amendments to the statement of claim disclosed no cause of action.

The judge dismissed the plaintiff’s application for leave to amend on the ground that the defendants did not owe a duty of care to ensure that FCE’s pre-bid financial statements and profit forecast were accurate because the directors and financial advisers of a target company in a contested take-over bid owe no duty of care to a known take-over bidder regarding the accuracy of profit forecasts, financial statements and defence documents prepared for the purpose of contesting the bid since such documents were prepared for the purpose of advising the shareholders of the target company whether to accept the bid and not for the guidance of the bidder and, accordingly, there did not exist sufficient proximity between the directors and financial advisors of the target company and the bidder to give rise to a duty of care. The plaintiff appealed.

Held: if during the course of a contested take-over bid the directors and financial advisers of the target company made express representations after an identified bidder had emerged intending that the bidder would rely on those representations they owed the bidder a duty of care not to be negligent in making representations which might mislead him. Since on the assumed facts the defendants intended the plaintiff to rely on the pre-bid financial statements and profit forecast for the purpose of deciding whether to make an increased bid and the plaintiff did so rely on those statements and the profit forecast, it was plainly arguable that there was a relationship of proximity between each of the defendants and the plaintiff sufficient to give rise to a duty of care. According, the proposed amendments to the statement of claim disclosed a reasonable cause of action. The appeal would therefore be allowed.

@ The Standard of Care The courts approach this question by using a hypothetical??? , `reasonable man’ in doing his act or omission?? ,. The whole concept of reasonable care standard is indeterminate???? to allow flexibility in its application. Therefore, what is reasonable conduct must always depend upon all the circumstances of the case, and so it is a mistake to rely on previous cases as precedents for what constitutes negligence (Qualcast v Haynes 1959 HL),i. e. reasons given for decisions on questions of facts are not binding. Another point to note is that the standard of care expected by a reasonable man is further subsisted by an objective??? , standard.

When a person commits the failure to take care , the court would look at whether ordinary people possessing the skill in question would commit that failure, it does not take into account of the particular idiosyncrasies?? , ?? or weakness of that person. * Lord Macmillan in Glasgow Corporation v Muir 1943 HL: ” .. There is generally no absolute standard of care, but that the degree of care varied directly with the risk involved… The standard of foresight of the reasonable man is , in one sense, an impersonal test. It eliminates the personal equation?? and is independent of the idiosyncrasies of the particular person whose conduct is called in question. “

* The following cases are illustrative : Bolton v Stone 1951 CA – P, who was hit by a cricket ball one hundred yards from a field with a fence of seventeen feet high. Evidence show that cricket balls had been hit out of the ground on six occasions in about 30 years. Likelihood of injury so slight that the cricket club was not negligent though the injury was foreseeable. The standard applied by the court was objective. Nettleship v Weston 1971 CA – the standard of care required of a learner driver is the same as that required of any other driver, namely that of reasonably competent??? , and experienced driver. Wilsher v Essex Area Health Authority 1986 CA.

– duty of care related not to individual but the post, and the standard was not just that of the average competent and well informed junior house doctor but of such a person who filled a post in the unit offering a highly specialized service. *Different approach : High Court of Australia in Cook v Cook 1986 – Where the driver, to the knowledge of the passenger, was both unlicensed to drive and inexperienced. Held that special and exceptional facts may transform the relationship between driver and passenger that it would be unreal to treat it as the ordinary relationship and unreasonable to measure the standard of skill and care by reference to the skill and care of an experienced and competent driver.

The factors affecting standard of care in an negligence action a. knowledge: of the reasonable man not the tort feasor b. skill: same c. error??of judgement: allowable as reasonable professional will still make mistakes d. common practice: reasonable in a trade/profession, but is not conclusive as to reasonableness e. conflicting practice: only follow a practice accepted as proper by a responsible body of the members of the profession f. beginners: learner must meet the same standard as a skilled person [Nettleship above] g. amateurs?? : higher than that of untrained person, yet lower than the standard of professional h. children: little cases, reasonable of that age Standard of care for people of professional skill The classic statement of the standard of care in cases of skilled defendants was laid down in : Bolam v Friern Hospital Committee 1957, McNair J.

” Where you get a situation which involves the use of some special skill or competent, then the test of whether there has been negligence or not is the standard of the ordinary skilled man exercising and professing to have that special skill… It is well established law that it is sufficient if he exercise the ordinary skill of an ordinary competent?? man exercising that particular art”. * This is commonly known as the Bolam’s test and was reiterated?? by the HL in : Whitehouse v Jordan 1981 : The standard of care is that of a reasonably competent professional man professing to have the standard and type of skill as the defendant held himself out as having and acting with ordinary care. * The amount of care must be commensurate with the skill professed :

Phillips v William Whiteley 1938 – P asked a jeweller to go to his home to have her ear pierced. The instruments?? , used was dirty and she got an ear infection??. P alleged?? that, like any surgeon???? , the jeweller should keep his instruments clean. – Held: since he was a jeweller he couldn’t be expected to have the standard of care and skill of a surgeon in matters concerning hygiene????. @ Causation Casual relationship Causation must be distinguished from remoteness of damage, the former examines whether the defendant’s breach of duty was in fact the cause to the plaintiff’s loss, whereas remoteness is concerned with whether it was in law the cause of the loss.

Thus the plaintiff have to prove a casual relationship between the defendant’s breach and his own loss, otherwise he cannot establish his claim. But-for test *The court is in effect asking whether the damage would have occurred but-for the defendant’s breach of duty. If the answer is yes, the defendant will not be liable. Barnett v Chelsea and Kensington Hospital Management Committee 1969 – patient called at hospital early in morning complained of vomiting?? after drinking tea – nurse on duty consulted the doctor by phone – doctor refused to see him and told him to go home to see his won doctor later in the morning – he died of arsenical???? poisoning later that day.

– Held: negligent, but even if he had given him proper treatment he would have been unable to save his life – therefore his negligence was not the cause of death. Performance Cars v Abraham 1962 -D’s car collided with P’s Rolls-Royce causing damages -14 days before, another collision, ?? , and damage for respray awarded -to the extent of the necessity for the respraying, D was not liable, otherwise he got compensation twice. Baker v Willoughby 1970 – P knocked down by D, causing disablement, lose job – took up new job in a scrapyard, injured again in robbery – leg had to be amputated – D was liable for the P’s loss both before and after injury.

– Lord Reid: that a plaintiff is not compensated for his physical injury but for the loss he suffers as a result of that injury, the secondary injury had not diminished the effect of the first injury, and in any event if the plaintiff were to sue the robbers they would rely on the maxim?? , `take your victim as you find him’ and would only be liable for the loss of a leg which was already damaged. Jobling v Associated Dairies 1982 HL – p injured in place of work in 1972, partial disability, has to take a less strenuous ??? job. Employer liable. before the issue on quantum was tried, found that he was suffering from a crippling, ??? back condition which would disable???? him by 1976. This event unrelated to the accident. – differ with Baker : inherent??? , disease vs tortious act by 3rd party, both are of policy reason, the HL has cast doubt on it. no casual relationship in Jobling.

Novous actus interveniens (intervening acts) This is an aspect in which causation and remoteness are closely linked, since the defendant will not be liable if the damage is caused by an act or event which intervenes so as to break the chain of causation. Robinson v post Office 1974 : – postman fall from a slippery ladder at work – suffered a cut shin, doctor give him anti-tetanus??? shot – doctor failed to test p for allergy??? , even done, would have shown no reaction – suffered brain damage as he was allergic – Held: doctor ‘s negligence did not cause the plaintiff’s damage because of the pre-existing allergy which constitute novous actus interveniens

Note: according to the egg-shell skull rule the Post Office had to take the victim as they found him. @ Remoteness Having established that the defendant owes the plaintiff a duty of care, and that duty was breached causing loss to the plaintiff, it must now consider whether the loss which the plaintiff has sustained?? , is one which is too remote??? , to make it not recoverable in negligence. The law places limits upon the extent to which a plaintiff can recover in negligence, known as rules relating to remoteness of damages. The tests are : *Direct consequences test This is essentially a test based on causation. Some independent intervening cause, either voluntary conduct or coincidence???? would render the damage indirect. Re Polemis 1921.

– the charterers of a ship loaded a quantity of benzine??? , on board the ship. A stevedore???? , employed by the charterers negligently dropped a wooden plank?? , into the hold of the ship. This dropping of the plank caused a sparked, which ignited the vapour, and the ship exploded. – the owners of the ship sued the charterers??? , ??? in negligence in respect of the damage done by their servant. The charterers defended the action on the ground that the loss caused to the owners by the negligence of their servant was too remote to be recovered in a negligence action. – the court of appeal held that the charterers were liable for the negligence of the stevedores and that the loss was not too remote.

– Scrutton LJ held that the damage had to be caused `sufficiently by the negligence act, and not by the operation of independent causes having no connection with the negligent act, except that they could not avoid its results’. It is immaterial that the damage caused is not the exact kind which one might expect, thus the servant’s negligent dropping of the plank rendered his employer liable for all direct consequences, even if the loss of a ship was unexpected. *The generally accepted view by this case is that as long as some damage to the plaintiff is foreseeable, the defendant is liable for all the damage that directly results from the negligence. The advantage of the Polemis approach was that it was consistent with the `thin skull rule’ while the Wagon Mound approach does cause confusion.

*Does it mean that the defendant was liable for all the damages directly resulting from his negligent behaviour and even to a plaintiff not reasonable foresight of the defendant? If so, it would be in clear conflict with the neighbour principle laid down in Donoghue v Stevenson. Forseeability test A different approach was then adopted by the Privy Council in Wagon Mound (No. 1) 1961. This decision is now considered as more important (some writer say it is the correct test and replace the Polemis test) In Banque Fianiere de la Cite SA v Westgate Insurance Co Ltd 1990 2 AER 947, Lord Templeman said that `liability and damages at law for breach of duty are confined to the foreseeable consequences of the act or omission which constitutes the breach’ and cited Wagon Mount No. 1 as authority for that proposition.

The traditional explanation of the difference between Polemis and Wagon Mound is that the former only requires that the damage be a direct result of the defendant’s negligence whereas the latter requires that the damage be a reasonably foreseeable consequences of the defendant’s negligence. NB : 1. make sure you can distinguish the two tests. 2. the relevant principle of `egg-shell skull rule’ 3. the relevant principle of novus actus interveniens. Nervous?? Shock (Psychiatric Illness) in Duty of Care * Question of remoteness in duty of care `Nervous Shock’ is the term used by lawyers to describe a medically recognized psychiatric???? illness or disor