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Cases - tort - negligence - duty of care

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AB v Leeds Teaching Hospital NHS Trust [2004] QBD

Alcock v Chief Constable of South Yorkshire [1991] HL

Alexandrou v Oxford (1993) CA

Anns v London Borough of Merton (1977) HL

Barber v Somerset County Council [2004] HL

Barnett v Chelsea Hospital Management Committee (1969) QBD

Barrett v Ministry of Defence [1995] CA

Barrett (AP) v Enfield London Borough Council (1999) HL

Beasley v Buckinghamshire CC (1997) QBD

Bici v Ministry of Defence [2004] CA

Blyth v Birmingham Waterworks (1856) Exch

Bolam v Friern Barnet Hospital Management Committee (1957) QBD

Bolitho v City & Hackney Health Authority [1997] HL

Bolton v Stone [1951] HL

Bourhill v Young (1943) HL

Bradford Corporation v Pickles [1895] HL

Bradford-Smart v West Sussex CC [2002] CA

Carmarthenshire CC v Lewis [1955] HL

Caparo v Dickman (1990) HL  

Capital and Counties plc v Hampshire County Council (1996) CA

Chadwick v British Railways Board [1967] QBD

Church of Latter-Day Saints v Yorkshire Fire Authority [1997] CA

Clunis v Camden & Islington Health Authority (1998) CA

Clay v Crump [1963] CA

Costello v Chief Constable of Northumbria Police [1999] CA

D v East Berkshire Community NHS Trust and others [2003] CA

Donachie v The Chief Constable of the Greater Manchester Police (CA) [2004]

Donoghue  v Stevenson (1932) HL

East Suffolk Rivers Catchment Board v Kent [1941] HL

Farrell v Avon Health Authority [2001] QBD

Froom v Butcher [1975] CA

Gates v McKenna (1998)

Gibson v Orr CCof Strathclyde [1999] (OH) Outer House Scotland

Gorringe v Calderdale Metropolitan Borough Council [2004] HL

Griffiths v Brown and Lindsay [1999] QBD

Hale v London Underground Ltd [1993] QBD

Haley v London Electricity Board (1965) HL

Hall v Simons (2000) HL

Harris v Evans (1998) CA

Heaven v Pender (1883) CA

Hedley Byrne & Co Ltd v Heller & Partners Ltd ]1963] (HL)

Hill v Chief Constable for West Yorkshire (1988) HL

Hollywood Silver Fox Farm v Emmett [1936] QBD

Home Office v Dorset Yacht [1970] HL

Hotson v East Berkshire Health Authority [1987] HL

Hughes v Lord Advocate (1963) HL

Hunter v Canary Warf Ltd and London Docklands Development Corporation (1997) HL

Jebson v Ministry of Defence [2000] CA

Jobling v Associated Dairies [1981] HL

John Munroe (Acrylics) Ltd v London Fire and Civil Defence authority [1997] CA

Jolley v Sutton LBC (1998) HL

Junior Books v Veitchi (1983) HL

Kent v Griffiths [2001] CA

Kirkham v. Chief Constable of the Greater Manchester Police [1990] CA

Knight v Home Office (1990) QBD

L and another v The CC of the Thames Valley Police [2001] CA

Langley v Dray (1998) CA

Latimer v AEC Ltd [1953] HL

Law Reform (Contributory Negligence) Act 1945 s.1 (1)

Leach v Chief Constable of Gloucester (1998) CA

Mahon v Osborne [1939] CA

Mansfield v Weetabix (1997) CA 

Margereson & Hancock v JW Roberts Ltd (1996) CA

Marc Rich Co AG and Others v Bishop Rock Marine Co Ltd and Others [1996] HL

Marshall v Osmond [1983] CA

Matthews v Ministry of Defence [2003] HL

McFarlane v EE Caledonia Ltd [1997] CA

McKay v Essex AHA (1982) CA

McLoughlin v O’Brian (1983) HL

McWilliams v Arrol [1962] HL

Mercer v South Eastern and Chatham Railway Companies' Managing Committee (1922) KBD

Mulcahy v Ministry of Defence (1996) CA

Mullaney v CC West Midlands [2001] CA

Mullin v Richards [1997] CA

Murphy v Brentwood District Council [1991] HL

Nettleship v Weston [1971] CA

Newman & others v United Kingdom Medical Research Council (1996) CA

Ogwo v Taylor [1987] HL 

OLL v Secretary of State for the Home Department (1996) QBD

Orange v Chief Constable of West Yorkshire [2002] CA

Osman v Ferguson (1993) CA

Osman v United Kingdom (1998) ECHR

Palsgraf v Long Island Railway Co (1928) New York Appeals

Palmer v Tees HA [2000] CA

Paris v Stepney BC [1951] HL

Peabody Fund v Parkinson [1984] HL

Perrett v Collins (1998) CA

Phelps v Hillingdon London Borough (2000) HL

R v Corydon Health Authority (1997) CA

Reeves v Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis [1999] (HL)

Rigby v Chief Constable of Northamptonshire (1985) QBD

Roberts v Ramsbottom [1980] QBD

Roe v Minister of Health [1954] CA

Rondel v Worsley (1969) HL

Rylands v Fletcher [1866] HL

Sayers v Harlow UDC [1958] CA

Sirros v Moore [1974] CA

Smith v Cribben [1994] CA

Smith v Leech Brain & Co (1962) QBD

Smith v Littlewoods Organisation Ltd [1987] HL

Smoldon v Whitworth [1997] CA

Spartan Steel v Martin [1972] CA

Stansbie v Troman [1948] CA

Stovin v Wise (1996) HL

Sutherland Shire Council v Heyman [1985] High Court of Australia

Swinney v Chief Constable of Northumbria Police (1996) CA

The Wagon Mound (1961) PC

Overseas Tankship v Morts Dock (The Wagon Mound (No 1)) [1961] PC

Overseas Tankship v Miller Steamship (The Wagon Mound (No 2)) [1966] PC

Thompson v Blake-James (1998)

Thompson v Smith Shiprepairers (North Shields) (1984) QBD

Three Rivers DC v Bank of England (No.3) [2000] HL

Topp v London Country Bus (South West) Ltd [1993] CA

Ultramares Corporation v Touche (1931) New York

Vaughan v Menlove (1837)

Vowles v Evans and Welsh Rugby Union Ltd [2003] CA

W v Essex County Council (1998) HL

Ward v Tesco Stores Ltd [1976] CA

Watson v BBBC (1999) CA

Watt v Hertfordshire PP [1954] CA

Wells v Cooper [1958] CA

White and others v Chief Constable of South Yorkshire and others [1998] HL

Wilson v Governors of Sacred Heart RC Primary School, Carlton (1997) CA

Wisniewski v Central Manchester Health Authority (1998) CA

X & Others v Bedfordshire County Council (1995) HL

Yuen Kun Yeu v Attorney General of Hong Kong (PC) [1988]

Z and others v The United Kingdom (2001) ECHR

 

AB v Leeds Teaching Hospital NHS Trust [2004] QBD

^[Negligence - duty of care medical practitioner removing and retaining organs from child’s body owed a duty of care to the parents]
D the hospitals that had retained tissue from the bodies of deceased children taken at or after post-mortem without the knowledge or consent of the parents The claimants were three lead claimants in group litigation. In each case, they consented to the carrying out of a post mortem, but were not informed in detail of the procedure or that organs might be removed and retained. Where organs had been retained, they were often treated in some way so as to preserve them.

Held: In the case of a doctor treating a mother who had had a child which had died, the doctor would have a duty to advise the mother about future pregnancies. That duty extended to giving the parents an explanation of the purpose of the post mortem and what it involved, including alerting them to the fact that organs might be retained.

 

Alcock v Chief Constable of South Yorkshire [1991] HL

[Tort - negligence - duty of care- floodgates and policy - rescuers]
A further action following the Hillsborough tragedy brought by those that helped at the scene.

 

Held: Rescuers should continue to qualify on policy grounds even though they were not in a close relationship with the victim. Friends and relatives raised the spectre of the "floodgates" argument, and the fear of opening up unlimited liability.

Lord Oliver openly used the word "policy" in explaining his decision.

 

Also here

Alexandrou v Oxford (1993) CA

[Tort – negligence - duty of care – no duty situations - public policy – no duty owed in operational matters]
D, the police failed to respond effectively when C’s alarm went off and a burglar escaped.

Held: There was no sufficient "special relationship" between the shop owner and the police to create a duty of care. If there were a duty in this case, there would be a similar duty towards anyone reporting a crime against his person or property.

C lost

Anns v London Borough of Merton (1977) HL

[Tort – negligence - duty of care – proving fault - development – 2 stage test – just and reasonable]
D, the LA had allowed builders to construct a block of flats with foundations which were only 2 feet 6 inches deep instead of 3 feet or deeper and had failed to carry out the necessary inspections C leased seven flats. Cracks in the walls and sloping of floors occurred.

Held: A two stage test was developed, this has now been replaced by the three stages in
Caparo v Dickman

 

This case overruled Murphy v Brentwood District Council

 

Barber v Somerset County Council [2004] HL

 

 

Whole case here

[Tort – negligence – duty of care – overworked schoolteacher – duty owed when problem known or should have been known]
D the council which employed C a 52 year old schoolteacher as head of mathematics in a comprehensive school. He worked long hours about which he complained of ‘work overload’. Following a period of sickness because he was ‘overstressed/depression’ he suffered a mental breakdown at school.

Held: The school owed C a duty of care, and their breach of that caused the claimant’s nervous breakdown. The employer’s duty to take some action arose when the claimant saw separately each member of the school’s senior management team. It continued so long as nothing was done to help the claimant. The senior management team should have made inquiries about his problems and seen what they could have done to ease them, instead of brushing him off unsympathetically or sympathising but simply telling him to prioritise his work.
Stokes v Guest, Keen and Nettlefold (Bolts and Nuts) Ltd [1968] applied.

C won

Barnett v Chelsea Hospital Management Committee (1969) QBD

Red Triangle indicates important information

 

[Tort – negligence - duty of care – causation in fact – negligence essential - omission can give rise to liability]
D, hospital where C went because of stomach pains and vomiting. The doctor refused to examine him and sent him home untreated; he died of arsenic poisoning five hours later. His family sued the hospital.

Held:
C would probably have died even if the proper treatment had been given promptly, so the hospital's negligence was not the cause of his death.

 

C’s family lost

Barrett v Ministry of Defence [1995] CA

^[Tort - negligence - duty of care - C's own actions - assuming a duty of care]

A naval airman became so drunk at the Royal Navy Air Station where he was serving that he died. The duty Petty Officer, had the rating placed on his bunk he vomited and died as a result of inhaling his own vomit.

 

It was alleged that D failed to enforce disciplinary regulations to prevent drunkenness.

 

Held: The deceased alone was responsible for his own actions and that no duty was owed to him in this respect.

 

However, the Ministry was held liable on the basis that, following his collapse, service personnel voluntarily assumed a duty of care and were negligent in that capacity.

 

Foresight of harm alone was not sufficient to create a duty to guard him against his own folly.

 

Beldam LJ stated:

"To dilute self-responsibility and to blame one adult for another’s lack of self-control is neither just nor reasonable and in the development of the law of negligence an increment too far.”

“Until he collapsed, I would hold that the deceased was in law alone responsible for his condition. Thereafter, when the defendant assumed responsibility for him, it accepts that the measures taken fell short of the standard reasonably to be expected. It did not summon medical assistance and its supervision of him was inadequate”.

 

Airman's widow won

Barrett (AP) v Enfield London Borough Council (1999) HL

 

Whole case, here

[Tort – negligence - duty of care imposed on Local Authority for children in care]
C was left psychologically damaged and an alcoholic when he left care of D a Local Authority.

Held: Taking a child into care pursuant to a statutory power did not create a duty of care. 

However, C’s allegations were largely directed to the way in which the powers of the local authority were exercised, a duty of care was owed and was broken.

 

Whether it was just and reasonable to impose a liability for negligence had to be decided on the basis of what was proved. Which except in the clearest cases, required an investigation of the facts.

C won

Beasley v Buckinghamshire CC (1997) QBD

 

[Tort – negligence - duty of care – no duty situations - distinction between policy and practical considerations]
C a foster parent was injured while looking after a foster child, a handicapped teenager.  Foster parent alleged council had not provided adequate training and equipment.

Held: C’s complaint concerned not the policy decision whether to use her services, but the “practical manner” in which the council had acted. They had not supplied proper training and equipment

 

Bici v Ministry of Defence [2004] CA

^[Tort - negligence - duty of care - psychiatric harm - service personnel]

Soldiers taking part in United Nations peacekeeping operations in Kosovo deliberately fired on a vehicle full of people when they had no justification in law for doing so, killing two and injuring others.

 

Held: The soldiers were liable in negligence to two of the claimants. They owed a duty to prevent personal injury to the public and had breached that duty by firing without justification. There was no objective evidence that they were about to be fired on by the claimants. They were in breach of duty, not due to the manner in which they fired their weapons, but in firing at all. Furthermore, the claimants were not contributorily negligent

 

Self-defence is available in negligence if it is reasonable belief (in criminal law it is an honest belief) the defendant’s conduct was not reasonable.

 

Combat immunity which was raised in Mulcahy, has no place in this claim.  Combat immunity is not a defence but removes the action from the jurisdiction of the court is:

"It is relied upon when a person is injured or their property is damaged or destroyed in circumstances where they are the “innocent” victims of action which is taken out of pressing necessity in the wider public interest arising out of combat."

C won in part

(Obiter) Had the soldiers been acting in lawful self defence, their firing, inaccurate as it was, would not have been considered negligent in the circumstances

[comment] This was the first claim for compensation involving British peacekeeping forces abroad.

Blyth v Birmingham Waterworks (1856) Exch

 

Red Triangle indicates important information

 

[Tort – negligence - what it is]

Baron Alderson:

Negligence is the omission to do something, which a reasonable man, guided upon those considerations, which ordinarily regulate the conduct of human affairs, would do, or doing something, which a prudent and reasonable man would not do. The standard demanded is thus not of perfection but of reasonableness. It is an objective standard taking no account of the defendant's incompetence - he may do the best he can and still be found negligent”

Bolam v Friern Barnet Hospital Management Committee (1957) QBD

 

Red Triangle indicates important information

 

[Tort – negligence - duty of care – standard of care and skill expected of D]
D hospital gave electro-convulsive therapy that broke D’s bones.  Some doctors would give relaxant drugs others would not.

Held: A doctor is not guilty of negligence is he has acted in accordance with a practice accepted as proper by a responsible body of medical men skilled in that particular art.

 

Bolitho v City & Hackney Health Authority [1997] HL

 

Red Triangle indicates important information

 

Whole case, here

[Tort – negligence - duty of care – assessing the standard of care and skill of D]
C aged 2 suffered serious brain damage following respiratory failure. Several expert witnesses supported the doctor, and on that basis, the judge found that the doctor had not been negligent.

Held: A doctor may be negligent even if there is a body of medical opinion in his favour: he must also be able to show that this opinion has a logical basis. Only very rarely would a judge decide that the opinions of a number of otherwise competent doctors were not reasonably held, and this was not such a case.

C lost

Bolton v Stone [1951] HL

 

Red Triangle indicates important information

 

[Tort – negligence - duty of care – factors to consider – practicality and cost of precautions]
D was a cricket club from where a cricket ball was struck over a 17-feet fence.  It hit C who was standing on the pavement outside her house. The ball must have travelled about 100 yards, and such a thing had happened only about six times in thirty years.

Held: The risk was so slight and the expense of reducing it so great that a reasonable cricket club would not have taken any further precautions.

C lost

Bourhill v Young (1943) HL

 

Red Triangle indicates important information

 

[Tort – negligence - duty of care - proximity - foreseeable]
D motorcyclist fatally injured.  C pregnant fishwife 15 yards away saw blood but did not see actual accident.  Caused shock and, subsequently, a miscarriage.

Held: 
C was not owed a duty of care it was not reasonably foreseeable that accident would cause her to suffer such injuries.

C lost

Bradford Corporation v Pickles [1895] HL

[Tort – negligence - duty of care - proving fault - malice not normally relevant]
D owned land containing underground streams which fed C's (Bradford Corporation) waterworks.  D began to sink shafts for the alleged purpose of draining certain beds of stone.  The effect of D’s operations was to affect seriously the supply of water to appellant’s springs. The corporation alleged that defendant was not acting in good faith, but to compel them to purchase his land.

 

Held: D has the right to divert or appropriate the water within his own land so as to deprive his neighbour of it. His right is the same whatever his motive may be, whether genuinely to improve his own land, or maliciously to injure his neighbour, or to induce his neighbour to buy him out.

No use of property which would be legal if due to a proper motive can become illegal if it is prompted by a motive which is improper or even malicious.

 

Bradford-Smart v West Sussex CC [2002] CA

^[Tort - negligence - duty of care - just, fair and reasonable - test is the standard of reasonable body]

D, the local authority of the school which C attended.  C was alleged to have been bullied on the bus to and from the school and on the estate where she lived. C suffered psychiatric harm.

 

Held: A school could be in breach of duty for failing to take steps to combat bullying by one pupil against another when they were outside school. 

However, a school would not be in breach of its duty if it failed to take steps which were unlikely to do much good.

 

If a reasonable body of opinion would not have taken any steps then the school could not be liable for its failure to act.  Bolam v Friern Hospital Management Committee [1957] applied

 

Approving the words of the trial judge:

"I have come to the conclusion that granted a school knows that a pupil is being bullied at home or on the way to and from school, it would not be practical let alone fair just and reasonable, to impose upon it a greater duty than to take reasonable steps to prevent that bullying spilling over into the school ...."

C lost

Carmarthenshire CC v Lewis [1955] HL

[Tort – negligence - duty of care - public policy – duty owed in operational matters]
D a Local Authority employed a teacher who left a 4-year-old child alone for about ten minutes while she did other things. The child left the classroom onto a busy road, where he caused a lorry driver to swerve and collide with a telegraph pole. The lorry driver was killed and his widow sued the education authority.

Held: The education authority had taken charge of the child and had a duty to take reasonable care to prevent him from causing harm to others.

C won.

Caparo v Dickman (1990) HL

 

Red Triangle indicates important information

 

^[Tort – negligence - duty of care – development – proximity - foreseeability - 3 stage test]
D auditors of company accounts.  C, Caparo bought shares and then discovered that the accounts did not show the company had been making a loss. C alleged that in negligence a duty was owed to Caparo.

Held: Approving a dictum of Brennan J in the High Court of Australia in Sutherland Shire Council v Heyman (1985), that the law should preferably develop novel categories of negligence incrementally and by analogy with established categories, rather than by a massive extension of a prima facie duty of care restrained only by indefinable "considerations which ought to negative or limit the scope of the duty or the class of person to whom it is owed".

No duty was owed in those two situations.

Steps to establish duty of care are;

a) Is there an existing case, which would hold there to be a duty of care?  If not then ask three questions.

1. Was loss to the claimant foreseeable?

2. Was there sufficient proximity between the parties?

3. Is it fair, just and reasonable to impose a duty of care?

Auditors won

Capital and Counties plc v Hampshire County Council (1996) CA

 

 

[Tort – negligence - duty of care – no duty situations - public policy – no duty owed in operational matters]
D, a fire officer negligently ordered the sprinkler system turned off in a burning building to which the brigade had been called.

Held: There is no public policy immunity in this situation. The decision was an operational one, not a matter of allocating scarce resources, and given the brigade's exclusive control over the situation it would be fair, just and reasonable to impose on them a duty of care to the property owner.

C won.

Chadwick v British Railways Board [1967] QBD

^[Tort - negligence - duty of care - rescuers - nervous shock - duty owed to rescuers]
 

D the railway board responsible for a major train accident caused by their negligence. C the wife of a volunteer who took part in rescue work suffered nervous shock and became psychoneurotic as a result of his experiences.

 

Held: Damages were recoverable for nervous shock even where the shock was not caused by fear for oneself or the safety of one's children and in the circumstances injury by shock was foreseeable.

 

D ought to have foreseen the existence of a rescuer and accordingly owed him a duty.

 

C won

Also here

Church of Latter-Day Saints v Yorkshire Fire Authority [1997] CA

 

[Tort – negligence - duty of care – no duty situations - public policy – no duty owed in operational matters]
D, the fire brigade, was unable to fight a fire at C’s, premises effectively: three fire hydrants were out of order and another four could not be found.

Held: The damage caused to C by D's negligence was certainly foreseeable, and there was a sufficiently proximate relationship between them, but it would not be fair just and reasonable to impose upon D a duty of care. The fire service is an emergency service, and to allow claims such as these would impose a burden that would distract it from its proper task of fighting fires.

 

It is for the individual to insure his property against fire, not for the community to do it for him, and as a matter of public policy, the fire service should not in general be open to claims of this kind.

C lost.

Clunis v Camden & Islington Health Authority (1998) CA

 

Whole case, here

 

^[Tort – negligence – duty – no duty situations – statutory duty - defences – ex turpi causa non oritur actio]
D a Local Authority released C from a psychiatric hospital into "community care"; he then killed a stranger for no evident reasons and was sentenced to life imprisonment. C sought damages for D's negligence in not providing adequate treatment, and D asserted ex turpi as a bar to such an action.

Held: The case should be struck out: the court ought not to allow itself to be made an instrument to enforce obligations alleged to arise out of the complainant’s own criminal act.

D won.

Clay v Crump [1963] CA

^[Tort - negligence - duty of care - two or more defendants]
A dangerous wall left standing at demolition site fell onto a work-mens' hut injuring C.


Held: Both the architect and the demolition contractors should reasonably have foreseen that a dangerous wall might fall and injure someone, and, accordingly, they were both under a duty to C.
If two or more persons contributed to an accident by their negligence each must bear a part of the blame, even though one of them had the last opportunity of preventing it.

 

C won

Costello v Chief Constable of Northumbria Police [1999] CA

 

Whole case, here

 

[Tort – negligence - duty of care – no duty situations - public policy – breach – duty of police in certain situations]
D the police force (vicariously) responsible for a police inspector who failed to help C a woman police constable who was attacked and injured by a woman prisoner at a police station.

 

Held:  There was a strong public policy consideration that the law should accord with common sense and public perception, and it would be correct to say that, the public would be greatly disturbed had the law held that there was no duty of care. In addition, the public interest would be ill-served if the common law did not oblige police officers to do their personal best in situations such as the present. It followed that B had been in breach of duty in law in not trying to help the claimant. The chief constable was vicariously liable for that breach, but was not personally in breach.

 

C won

D v East Berkshire Community NHS Trust and others [2003] CA

 

Whole case, here

 

Red triangle indicating important information

 

[Tort – negligence - duty of care to child - Human Rights Act - duty owed in some child abuse cases]
Parents sued for compensation for psychiatric harm resulting from unfounded accusations of child abuse.

 

Held: X v Bedfordshire County Council [1995] (which denied a duty of care based on the "fair, just and reasonable" test) could not survive the Human Rights Act.

 

A duty of care could sometimes be owed to a child suspected of being abused. But each case was to be determined on its individual facts.

 

Where child abuse is suspected and removing the child from the parents was justified, no duty of care was owed to the parents.

 

One of the three children won

Donachie v The Chief Constable of the Greater Manchester Police (CA) [2004]

Tort - negligence - duty of care - foreseeability of harm - directly caused or other type of injury]

D, the police force in which C was serving in the Regional Crime Squad. C was required to attach a tagging device to the underside of a car believed to belong to a gang of criminals. The car was behind a public house in suspects were drinking.

 

The device failed to activate when attached until the ninth attempt.  Each trip had subjected him to an increased risk of being caught in the act by the suspects. He became increasingly frightened and feared serious injury or even death.

 

As a result of the operation the claimant developed a clinical psychiatric state, which lead to an acute rise in blood pressure, which caused a stroke.
 

Held: It had been a reasonably foreseeable that the defendant’s breach of duty would have caused physical injury to the claimant, although not of the kind he had actually suffered, and accordingly the defendant would be liable for the unforeseen psychiatric injury caused by its negligence.

 

Established authority provided that in claims for nervous shock or other forms of psychiatric injury, the application of the test of reasonable foreseeability differed according to whether the claimant was a ‘primary’ or ‘secondary’ victim.

 

However, where the court was satisfied that reasonable foreseeability had been established, whether for physical or psychiatric injury or both, it was immaterial whether the foreseeable injury caused had been caused directly or through another form of injury not reasonably foreseeable.
 

Page v Smith [1995] applied.

 

C won

Donoghue  v Stevenson (1932) HL

 

Red Triangle indicates important information

 

Whole case here

 

^[Tort – negligence - duty of care – proving fault – to whom duty owed - neighbour principle]
C, Mrs Donoghue went to Minchella's Wellmeadow Cafe in Paisley with a friend. The friend ordered ice cream over which part of a bottle of ginger beer was poured. When the remainder of the ginger beer was poured, it was found to contain a decomposed snail. Mrs Donoghue became ill through having consumed contaminated ginger beer.

Held
:

"The rule that you are to love your neighbour become in law, you must not injure your neighbour; and the lawyer's question, Who is my neighbour? Receives a restricted reply. 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." 

C won.

East Suffolk Rivers Catchment Board v Kent
[1941] HL

^[Tort - negligence - duty of care - Board empowered but not obliged to repair breach]

D the Board who had statutory powers to repair a breach in the sea wall. C whose land was flooded during a very high tied breaching the wall.

D carried out the repairs so inefficiently that the flooding continued for 178 days, instead of 14 days. C's pasture land was seriously damaged.

 

Held: D was under no obligation to repair the wall or to complete the work after having begun it, so they were under no liability to C, the damage suffered by them being due to natural causes.

 

Where a statutory authority is entrusted with a mere power it cannot be made liable for any damage sustained by a member of the public by reason of a failure to exercise the power.

 

So long as the authority exercises its discretion honestly, it can determine the method by which, and the time during which, the power shall be exercised.

 

C lost

Farrell v Avon Health Authority [2001] QBD

[Tort – negligence - duty of care – take victim as found – foreseeability of harm]
D (maternity hospital) wrongly told C his baby had died, C suffered psychiatric harm. C & E went on holiday together and had sexual intercourse once. There was no romance and the two went their separate ways. 

 

The baby was born prematurely C was very excited and immediately went to see the baby. He was told that the baby had died.  The dead baby was brought to him whom he then handled. After about 20 minutes, the nurses returned and took the baby away, saying that his baby was still alive and that there had been a mistake.

 

C, who had problems with alcoholism and drug abuse, developed post traumatic stress disorder.

 

Held: The claimant was a primary victim and could recover for psychiatric injury although he had neither sustained nor was it reasonably foreseeable that he would sustain any physical injury.  It was foreseeable that there was a real risk of him suffering a recognised psychiatric disorder as a result of the incident.

 

A claimant would clearly be a primary victim if he was physically involved in the incident itself so it was sufficient for the claimant to show that the defendant ought to have had psychiatric injury in its contemplation. If the foreseeability test was then fulfilled the defendant had to take the claimant as it found him.

 

It followed that the test to be applied was whether the defendant ought reasonably to have foreseen that its conduct would expose the claimant to the risk of a recognised psychiatric disorder on the basis of facts known to the defendant at the relevant time, that risk being a real risk not merely a possibility.

 

C was awarded £10,000.

Froom v Butcher [1975] CA

 

Red Triangle indicates important information

 

[Tort – negligence - duty of care – damages – contributory negligence]
C was injured in a road traffic accident but was not wearing a seat belt, which at the time was again widely recommended but not legally required.

Held: C’s damages were reduced by 25%.

For the future a deduction of 25% where wearing a seat belt would have prevented the injuries, or 15% where there would still have been some injuries but they would have been less severe.

 

Gates v McKenna (1998)

[Tort – negligence - duty of care – level of skill required]
D a stage hypnotist caused psychiatric damage to volunteer from audience.

Held: Level of precautions expected should be that of a ‘reasonably careful exponent of stage hypnotism’.

 

Gibson v Orr CCof Strathclyde [1999]
(OH) Outer House
Scotland

 

^[Tort - negligence - duty of care - proximity - fair and reasonable]

D the chief constable whose officers left the scene of a collapsed road bridge without ensuring there was warning for vehicles on the other side of the river.  C was a passenger in a vehicle drove off a collapsed bridge.

 

Held: Three elements had to be applied in personal injury actions based on a duty of care. Foreseeability, proximity and that it was fair, just and reasonable that duty be imposed,

Once a constable had taken control of a road traffic situation which presented a danger, the law regarded that constable as being in such a relationship with road users as to satisfy the requisite element of proximity.

It was fair, just and reasonable to impose a duty in the circumstances. There was no immunity for a police force in performance of civil operational tasks concerned with human safety on the public roads and there was no overwhelming dictate of public policy to exclude the prosecution of such claims.

 

C won

Gorringe v Calderdale Metropolitan Borough Council [2004] HL

 

 

 

Whole case here

[Negligence – duty of care – private duty of care not automatically derived from the shadow of a statutory duty]
D was the local authority responsible under Highways Act 1980 for the maintenance of a country road. C drove too fast towards the crest of a hill and collided with a bus suffering very severe injuries. C argued that D’s failure to paint the word ‘SLOW’ on the road surface constituted a breach of its duty under the Highways Act and the Road Traffic Act 1988. She argued that that the statutory duties cast a common law shadow and created a duty to users of the highway to take reasonable steps in compliance with the duties in the section.

Held: It was not possible to impose upon a local authority a common law duty to act based solely on the existence of a broad public law duty. A common law duty of care could not grow parasitically out of a statutory duty not intended to be owed to individuals. The drivers had to take responsibility for the damage they caused and compulsory third party insurance is intended to ensure that they would be able to do so. In the instant case, where the complaint was that the authority had done nothing, the action had to fail.
Stovin v Wise [1996] applied.

C lost

Griffiths v Brown and Lindsay [1999] QBD

^[Tort - negligence - duty of care - no duty owed to passenger in a taxi - not fair, reasonable nor practicable]
D a taxi driver (Lindsay) set down his intoxicated passenger 30 to 40 yards from his destination, on the other side of the road, but close to a pedestrian crossing controlled by traffic lights, in the event of the passenger sustaining injury on being struck by a car (driven by Brown) as he crossed the road.

 

Held: The taxi driver's duty to the passenger came to an end once the passenger alighted and it was neither reasonable nor practicable to require a taxi driver to make an assessment of a passenger's state of intoxication before setting him down.

 

C lost

Hale v London Underground Ltd [1993] QBD

^[Tort - negligence - duty of care - rescuers - psychiatric harm]
D the London Underground board. C a fire-fighter who attended the fire at King's Cross underground station in November 1987. He entered the station several times, displaying great bravery. He suffered no significant physical injury, although he collapsed from exhaustion and had to be assisted to the surface. He suffered classic post-traumatic stress disorder and depression.

 

Held: There was no consideration of duty of care, as liability was admitted, the case concerned only the amount of damages he could recover (about £145,000).

 

Haley v London Electricity Board (1965) HL

 

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[Tort – negligence - duty of care - to whom owed – can be class of person - breach - the vulnerable complainant]
D the Electricity Board, whose workmen were preparing to carry out work on underground cables.  They dug a hole, and in order to give warning of the danger they laid a long-handled hammer across the pavement. C, a blind man tripped over the hammer and was injured.

Held:
D was liable they had given adequate warning to sighted people, but it was common knowledge that large numbers of blind people walked unaided along pavements and the duty of care extended to them as well.


C won

Hall v Simons (2000) HL

 

Whole case, here

 

 

^[Tort - negligence – duty – no duty situations - breach - professionals immunity – advocates – not a special case]
One of several cases (conjoined cases) on similar issues, where claimants had done less well than they would but for negligence of their legal advisers.

Held: It was no longer in the public interest that advocates should enjoy immunity from being sued for negligent acts concerned with the conduct of litigation whether in civil or criminal proceedings.

Change of rule on lawyers’ immunity

Harris v Evans (1998) CA

 

Whole case, here

[Tort – negligence - duty of care – statutory obligations - policy decisions]
D ran bungee jumps using a mobile crane, which was checked by an independent inspector fro the Health and Safety Executive.  The inspector found the jump unsafe (wrongly). C suffered loss of profits.

Held: An inspector under the 1974 Act cannot be made liable in an action in negligence for economic damage caused to a business by Notices under the 1974 Act.

 

D did not owe a duty of care to the proprietor of that business. To impose such a duty of care would be likely to engender untoward cautiousness

 

Moreover, it was implicit in the 1974 Act that improvement notices and prohibition notices might cause economic loss or damage to the business enterprise in question and the Act itself provided remedies against errors or excesses on the part of inspectors and enforcing authorities.

 

C lost

Heaven v Pender (1883) CA

^[Tort - negligence - existence of a duty of care]
D, a dock owner on whose scaffolding C was working whilst he painted a ship. One of the ropes broke, and C fell into the dock and was injured.

 

Held: D was under an obligation to him to take reasonable care that at the time he supplied the staging and ropes they were in a fit state to be used, and that for the neglect of such duty D was liable to the C he had sustained:

 

Brett  MR: A duty arises when every one of ordinary sense would at once recognise that care and skill was needed to avoid danger of injury.

Two drivers meeting have no contract with each other, but have a reciprocal duty towards each other. So two ships navigating the sea. So a railway company has a duty towards passengers. So the owner or occupier of house or land towards visitors. A contract between two persons does not prevent the existence of a duty.

 

C won

[comment] Brett MR attempted to enunciated a complex rule of logic that could be applied to decide whether a duty of care existed, but this 'rule' has not been followed by other courts.

Hedley Byrne & Co Ltd v Heller & Partners Ltd ]1963] (HL)

^[Tort - negligence - duty of care - extent of the duty depends on the courts assessment of demands of society]

D, a bank gave a reference to C (another bank) regarding the financial responsibility of a customer, expecting the bank to act on it.  The reference was given "without responsibility."

 

The second bank acted on the reference and suffered financial loss as a result. They sued D in negligence.

 

Held:  The law will imply a duty of care when a party seeking information from a party possessed of a special skill trusts him to exercise due care, and that party knew or ought to have known that reliance was being placed on his skill and judgment.

 

However, since here there was an express disclaimer of responsibility, no such duty was, in any event, implied.

 

Lord Pearce:

“How wide the sphere of the duty of care in negligence is to be laid depends ultimately upon the courts' assessment of the demands of society for protection from the carelessness of others.”

C lost

Hill v Chief Constable for West Yorkshire (1988) HL

 

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[Tort – negligence – duty of care – no duty situations - foreseeability - breach - acts of third parties - public policy]
D the police failed to catch the "Yorkshire Ripper".  C, the mother of the lat (13th) victim sued the police for negligence alleging inefficiency and errors in their handling of the investigation.

Held:
The police owed no duty of care towards the daughter to protect her from the Ripper. Some further ingredient is invariably needed to establish the requisite proximity of relationship between the complainant and the defendant; she had been at no greater risk than most other members of the public had.

 

C lost

Hollywood Silver Fox Farm v Emmett [1936] QBD

[Tort – negligence - duty of care - proving fault - malice not normally relevant - abnormal sensitivity]
D, a landowner, maliciously caused his son to discharge guns on his own land as near as possible to fox breeding pens owned by C on the adjoining land.  C carried on the business of breeding silver foxes and D wished to interfere with the breeding of the foxes. 
During the breeding season the vixens are very nervous, and liable if disturbed either to refuse to breed, to miscarry, or to kill their young.

 

Held: C was entitled to an injunction and damages, although the firing took place on D’s own land, over which he was entitled to shoot.

In the absence of malice the injunction would probably have been refused on the grounds that C was using the land for an unusually sensitive purpose.

 

Home Office v Dorset Yacht [1970] HL

 

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[Tort – negligence - duty of care – no policy reason to allow Crown special immunity]
D’s, borstal officers allowed seven boys to escape from a training camp on Brownsea Island in Poole Harbour while they were asleep. They stole C’s boat and caused damage to other boats in the harbour.

Held: Borstal authorities owed a duty of care to the owners of property near the camp. There were no good reasons of public policy for allowing the Crown any special immunity in this respect.

 

Liability restricted to the property-owners in the immediate vicinity their loss was foreseeable, and would not have extended to others further a field.

C won.

Hotson v East Berkshire Health Authority [1987] HL

 

[Tort – negligence - duty of care – medical treatment]
D a hospital where C was taken.  He was a young boy who injured his hip by falling out of a tree. The injury was wrongly diagnosed and he was thus given inappropriate treatment. He suffered a permanent disability; the hospital admitted negligence but denied liability.

Held: C had not proved on a balance of probabilities that the negligent treatment had caused his disability - on the contrary, the probabilities were 75-25 that it had not. C therefore had no claim whatever.

 

Hughes v Lord Advocate (1963) HL

 

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[Tort – negligence - duty of care - foreseeability of damage]
D the Post Office employed workmen who took a break, leaving a manhole covered by a small tent with a paraffin lamp at each corner. C, one of two boys aged 8 and 10 took one of these lamps into the tent. One of them tripped, the lamp fell into the manhole and caused an explosion injuring one boy.

Held: 
The accident was caused by a known source of danger and that made it foreseeable even though the way in which it happened was unexpected.

C won

Hunter v Canary Warf Ltd and London Docklands Development Corporation (1997) HL

 

Whole case, here

[Tort – private nuisance]
CC alleged that their television reception had been affected by the building of the Canary Wharf tower.

Held
: Overruling Khorasandjian on the point that the occupation of property as a home (rather than a right to exclusive possession) was sufficient capacity to bring an action in private nuisance. And reaffirming the decision in Malone v Laskey.  The idea that the complainant needed only a "substantial link" with the property affected, was too vague, and would transform nuisance from a tort to land into a tort to the person.

There might be a nuisance if reception was affected by activities (e.g. involving electrical discharges) on DD's premises, but the mere presence of a building was not capable of constituting a nuisance.

The law of private nuisance does not extend to personal injuries, which are properly covered by the tort of negligence.

 

Jebson v Ministry of Defence [2000] CA

^[Tort - negligence - duty of care - C's own actions - foreseeability]
D the army with whom C, a former Grenadier Guard, attended an off duty trip to relax.  They travelled in a lorry and C attempted to climb onto the roof of the lorry but lost his footing and fell, sustaining severe injuries.

 

Held: While ordinarily drunkenness did not create a duty on others to exercise special care, that rule was not immutable.

It had been foreseeable that the soldiers would behave in a rowdy manner on the return trip thereby placing themselves at risk from some form of injury, and that the MOD had failed in their duty to supervise them. Furthermore, the conduct of C had been within the genus of behaviour which had been foreseeable. It was not necessary that a precise injury should be foreseen; instead it was sufficient to show that an injury of a given description was likely to occur.

 

The MOD had a 25 per cent liability for C's injuries.
Jolley v Sutton LBC [2000] applied.

Jobling v Associated Dairies [1981] HL

 

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[Tort – negligence - duty of care – sensitivity of complainant]
D the employer of a workman who suffered a slipped disc through their negligence.  His earning capacity was reduced by half. Four years later, he was found to have a pre-existing spinal disease unrelated to his accident.  When the case came to trial, he was totally incapable of work.

Held: The employer was liable for only four years' loss of earnings, this being a rare case in which the "eggshell skull" rule operated to the benefit of the defendant.

 

John Munroe (Acrylics) Ltd v London Fire and Civil Defence authority [1997] CA

[Tort – negligence - duty of care – no duty situations - public policy – no duty owed in operational matters]
D employed fire fighters who wrongly thought all the fires at C’s premises had been put out.  One of the fires flared up again, causing damage to C’s premises. C sued D and others, alleging negligence.

Held: D owed no duty of care to C. The considerations set out in Hill are applicable as much to the fire brigade as to the police.  Imposing a duty of care would not improve the efficiency of the service but would lead to defensive fire fighting. Above all, the imposition of a duty of care in this situation would lead to a flood of claims, since many fires were created by Acts of God or acts of criminals and lunatics, leaving only the fire service to be sued.

C lost.

Jolley v Sutton LBC (1998) HL

 

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Whole case, here

 

[Tort – negligence - duty of care – occupiers liability – The common duty of care]
D the owners of land where an old boat had been abandoned for about 2 years.  C a 14-year-old boy was seriously injured when he and a friend had propped it up on a car jack while they tried to repair the boat that fell on him. C sued under the Occupiers' Liability Act 1957.

Held:
The boat was something that would be attractive to children (including those of C's age). Some injury was foreseeable if children played on or around it, and D had been negligent in not removing it.

 

Lord Hoffmann said that children's

"ingenuity in finding unexpected ways of doing mischief to themselves and others should never be underestimated".

C won

Junior Books v Veitchi (1983) HL

[Tort – negligence - duty of care - development and scope - damage – remoteness - economic loss]
D, specialist-flooring contractors negligently laid a floor in C’s factory.

D as specialist flooring contractors knew what products were required and were alone responsible for the composition and construction of the floor.  C suffered loss and damages, such as the cost of removal of machinery and loss of profits while the floor was being re-laid.

Held:  Te scope of the duty of care extended to a duty to avoid causing pure economic loss consequential on defects in the work.

D lost

Kent v Griffiths [2001] CA

^[Tort - negligence – duty of care - ambulance service owe duty if ambulance failed to arrive within reasonable time due to carelessness]
D the London Ambulance Service. C, an asthmatic who suffered an attack. Her doctor telephoned for an ambulance that took 30 minutes to arrive.  C suffered a respiratory arrest.

 

Held:  There were obvious similarities between the instant case and cases involving the police or fire services, where it had been held as a matter of public policy that there was no common law duty to an individual member of the public.  In this case the fact that there was only one person who would foreseeably suffer further injuries by a delay was important in establishing the necessary proximity.

 

C won

Kirkham v. Chief Constable of the Greater Manchester Police [1990] CA

^[Tort - negligence - duty of care to suicidal prisoner]

D, the police force who detained the husband of C.  The prisoner was known to be suicidal but the police failed to pass on the information to prison authorities.  The prisoner committed suicide in prison.

Held: The police had assumed the responsibility of passing information to the prison authorities when they arrested him, the husband had relied on that assumption of responsibility, there was a duty of care and it was breached.

 
Since his act was the very occurrence which should have been prevented, the defence of volenti non fit injuria could not succeed.

Since suicide was no longer criminal act  the defence of ex turpi causa non oritur actio was not available.

 

C won

Knight v Home Office (1990) QBD

^[Tort - negligence - duty of care - prison officers - duty towards their prisoners - failure to provide care - omissions]

D, Home Office responsible for prisons where a 21 year old mentally ill prisoner committed suicide while in the hospital wing of Brixton Prison. C the deceased's personal representative suing on behalf of his infant son. The prisoner was known to have suicidal tendencies and was on a 15 minute watch.

 

Held: The argument that the same standard of care applied to prison as to psychiatric hospitals failed, as the primary function of the prison was to detain the inmates and, although the prison was required to care for physically and mentally ill prisoners, it could not be expected to provide the same degree of care as hospitals outside.

 

There was no evidence that the prison doctors were negligent in their care of W.

 

C lost

L and another v The CC of the Thames Valley Police [2001] CA

^[Tort - negligence – duty to take care – police owing duty of care – just fair and reasonable]
D, the police force to whom the mother of L reported allegations of sexual abuse against L by her father, C.  Legal action followed.

It subsequently transpired that L’s mother had suffered from Munchausen’s Syndrome by proxy and that the allegations of abuse had been fabricated.

The father sued because of harm suffered by him and L because of the investigation.

 

Held: There had been a legal assumption of responsibility and a special relationship between the father and the investigators and that a duty had arisen

It was fair, just and reasonable to impose a duty of care

 

C won

Langley v Dray (1998) CA

 

Whole case, here

 

[Tort – negligence - duty of care - automatically owed by motorists to other road users]
D driving a stolen car was chased by C, a police officer.  C was injured in accident.

Held
: D owed a duty of care.  He knew or ought to have known that the police were in pursuit and should not have gone so fast on ice.  He had a duty not to create such a risk.

C won

Latimer v AEC Ltd [1953] HL

 

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[Tort – negligence - duty of care – practicality and costs of precautions]
D a factory owner. C slipped on an oily film and injured his ankle. The sawdust put down to soak up liquid did not cover the entire floor.  The oily film was due to water from an exceptionally heavy storm caused.

Held:
D had done all that a reasonable person would do in the circumstances; they could not have eliminated the risk completely without closing the factory.

C lost

Law Reform (Contributory Negligence) Act 1945 s.1 (1)

any person suffers damage as the result partly of his own fault and partly of the fault of another person or persons, a claim in respect of that damage shall not be defeated by reason of the fault of the person suffering the damage, but the damages recoverable in respect thereof shall be reduced to such extent as the court thinks just and equitable having regard to the claimant's share in the responsibility for the damage ...

Leach v Chief Constable of Gloucester (1998) CA

 

Whole case, here

 

[Tort – negligence - duty of care – no duty situations - public policy – breach – no duty of police in certain situations – even if required by statute]
D the police had asked C a voluntary worker, to act as an ‘appropriate adult’ (Code C PACE Codes of Practice, requiring) during interview of Frederick West (the child murderer).  C suffered posttraumatic stress disorder.  The police had not assessed her or trained her for such a case.  No counselling was provided (as had been for West’s solicitors).

Held:  
It was arguable that the police owed no duty of care in negligence to a volunteer they called in to act as appropriate adult in harrowing and traumatic police interviews who later suffered nervous shock and stress as a result. In fact the whole point of an ‘appropriate adult’ is that they should act independently.

 

However, there were well-established duties of care which the police undoubtedly owed to C just as they owed them to anyone else who was foreseeably at risk of personal injury C’s claim would be allowed to proceed to trial on the issue of failure to provide counselling services but the particulars of claim so far as they related to the duty of care towards C as an appropriate adult would remain struck out.

C won.

Considered in Costello

Mahon v Osborne [1939] CA

[Tort – negligence - duty of care – limits of res ipsa loquitur]
A patient died shortly after an abdominal operation and post-mortem examination found a swab in his body.

Held: Negligence had been established.

Res ipsa loquitur applied only to things within common experience, and that was not the case with complex surgical procedures.

 

Mansfield v Weetabix (1997) CA

 

Whole case, here

 

[Tort – negligence - duty of care – standard of care expected of drivers]
D owners of lorry.  Their driver suffered from lack of glucose to the brain.  He was unaware of effect on his driving, C suffered damage to their shop when lorry left road on a bend.

 

Held: The standard of care that driver was obliged to show was that which is expected of a reasonably competent driver. The driver did not know and could not reasonably have known of his illness that was the cause of the accident. Therefore, he was not at fault. His actions did not fall below the standard of care required.

C lost

Margereson & Hancock v JW Roberts Ltd (1996) CA

^[Tort - negligence -  foreseeability of harm]
D the owners of a factory near where the two complainants had lived and played as children.  They contracted mesothelioma due to their exposure to asbestos

 

Held: D was liable to C because they knew or ought to have known that asbestos dust was escaping from the factories into the surrounding street and could cause harm to people who were exposed to it.

 

Risk of harm of allowing asbestos dust to escape factory was foreseeable

As stated by Lord Lloyd in Page v Smith (1995), ’the test in every case ought to be whether the defendant can reasonably foresee that his conduct will expose the claimant to the risk

 

C won

Also here

Marc Rich Co AG and Others v Bishop Rock Marine Co Ltd and Others [1996] HL
 

^[Tort - negligence - duty to take care - not fair, just and reasonable to impose duty when C assumes responsibility]

A surveyor acting on behalf of the classification society had recommended that after repairs specified by him had been carried out a vessel should be allowed to proceed. It was lost at sea.

 

Held: The cargo owners could not recover damages from the classification society. There was no contact between them. It was not even suggested that the cargo owners knew of the survey, they simply relied on the owners to keep the vessel sea worthy and to look after the cargo.

 

The classification surveyor did not owe a duty of care to the ship owners. The decision turned essentially on considerations of policy in relation to the role of a classification society in the context of the insurance of risks

 

A duty of care in this case would have severe consequences for both marine insurance and freight costs, furthermore, it might lead to the classification society refusing to survey high-risk vessels with potentially harmful consequences for the public safety at sea.
 

Marshall v Osmond [1983] CA

[Tort – negligence - duty of care – police drivers same as public – error of judgment not negligence]
D following C, an escaping criminal crashed the police car into his, injuring him.

Held: The duty owed by a police driver was the same as that owed by any other, namely, to exercise such care and skill as was reasonable in all the circumstances.

But where those circumstances were that he was driving alongside another car in order to make an arrest, the error of judgement he made in the instant case did not amount to negligence.

 

Matthews v Ministry of Defence [2003] HL

 

Whole case, here

[Tort – negligence - duty of care – no duty situations – The Crown – armed services]
C a former sailor was exposed to asbestos dust a claim in tort was barred by The Crown Proceedings Act 1947.  

Held: C’s ‘civil right’ was satisfied under the ECHR by certification by the ministry and his entitlement to a pension.  The Crown is immune from proceedings in these circumstances because the 1947 Act provided for a no fault compensation scheme. This arrangement did not infringe his rights to access to the courts.  C had no civil right to claim damages for tort against the ministry.

C lost

McFarlane v EE Caledonia Ltd [1997] CA

^[Tort - negligence - duty of care - rescuers - likely harm not possible harm - Piper Alpha rescuers unable to recover damages]

DD, the owners and operators of the Piper Alpha, an off-shore oil and gas platform. C a member of the crew of the supply ship which went to assist survivors.

 

C claimed that he was a participant in the disaster or alternatively as a rescuer and had suffered severe psychological injury as a result of witnessing the catastrophe.


The issue was whether DD owed a duty of care.
 

Held: C could not recover damages in negligence as a primary victim as, whilst the vessel on which he was stationed was close to danger, it was never actually in danger, which made C's fear for his life unreasonable;

 

Although safety Regulations were intended to ensure the safety of those near the rig as well as on it, it was not enough that the breach of statutory duty caused C's psychiatric injury. C had to show that it was likely, not merely possible, that the breach of duty would cause him injury, in order to qualify for protection under the Regulations.

 

 "both as a matter of principle and policy the court should not extend the duty to those who are mere bystanders or witnesses of horrific events unless there is a sufficient degree of proximity, which requires both nearness in time and place and a close relationship of love and affection between plaintiff and victim."

C lost

McKay v Essex AHA (1982) CA

^[Tort - negligence - duty of care - public policy - wrongful birth creates no cause of action]
DD, the doctors who did not advise a mother to have an abortion.  C was born disabled as a result of an infection of rubella (German measles) suffered by her mother while the child was in her womb.

 

The child claimed damages on the ground that she had been "suffered entry into a life in which her injuries are highly debilitating," and for distress, loss and damage.


Held:  There is no claim in law which allows a child born alive with deformities to claim damages for negligence against doctors in allowing it to be born alive.

 

The doctor was under no legal obligation under the Abortion Act 1967 to the foetus to terminate its life, and the child's claim was contrary to public policy as a violation of the sanctity of human life, and a claim which could not be recognised since the court could not evaluate damages for the denial of non-existence

 

The effect of the Congenital Disabilities (Civil Liability) Act 1976 was that no child born after the passing of the Act could have a cause of action based on the loss of a chance to die.

 

C lost

McLoughlin v O’Brian (1983) HL

 

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^[Tort – negligence - development of duty of care – 2 stage test - proximity - nervous shock]
D a driver who caused an accident, which injured C’s family. C visited hospital saw injured husband and daughters. What she saw and heard from witnesses caused severe nervous shock.
Distance and time are factors, but not legal restrictions.

Held:
Although not present at the accident, it was a reasonably foreseeable consequence of the defendant's negligence.

C won

McWilliams v Arrol [1962] HL

[Tort – negligence - duty of care - causation]
D a building firm had not provided a safety belt to a steel erector who fell 70 feet to his death.  C the widow.  D was in breach of its statutory duty to provide a safety belt (but not to insist that it be worn) but, there was evidence to show that the man would probably not have worn a belt even had it been provided.

Held: The firm's negligence and breach of statutory duty were not the cause of his death.

C lost

Mercer v South Eastern and Chatham Railway Companies' Managing Committee (1922) KBD

[Tort - negligence - duty of care - liability for omissions]
D a railway company which kept locked a small wicker gate when trains were passing, and was unlocked only when it was safe to cross, and C knew of this practice. Owing to the negligence of D's employee the gate was left unlocked when a train was approaching, C went through it, and was injured.

 

Held: D, by leaving the gate unlocked, gave C an invitation to cross the line, that in the circumstances C, in acting upon that invitation, had not failed to use ordinary and reasonable care, and, therefore, that he was entitled to damages.

"It may seem a hardship on a railway company to hold them responsible for the omission to do something which they were under no legal obligation to do, and which they only did for the protection of the public. They ought, however, to have contemplated that if a self-imposed duty is ordinarily performed, those who know of it will draw an inference if on a given occasion it is not performed. If they wish to protect themselves against the inference being drawn they should do so by giving notice, and they did not do so in this case."

C won

Mulcahy v Ministry of Defence (1996) CA

 

[Tort – negligence - duty of care - no duty situations  - just fair and reasonable - public policy – employers’ liability]
D, responsible for the army and therefore its soldiers, employed a gun commander during the Gulf War. C an artilleryman sustained damage to his hearing when a howitzer was fired accidentally.

Held: A serviceman owes no duty of care to his fellow servicemen in battle conditions, since as a matter of common sense and public policy it would not be fair, just and reasonable to impose such a duty.  For the same reason the Ministry of Defence as C’s employer does not have a duty to provide a safe system of work in those circumstances.

C lost

Mullaney v CC West Midlands [2001] CA

[Tort – negligence – duty to take care - no policy considerations]

D the Chief Constable of the force where C, a probationary police officer, sustained a serious head injury whilst attempting to arrest a man for importuning in public lavatories. He made four radio calls for help but they went unanswered.

 

Held: D owed C a personal or non-delegable duty as his quasi employer to take reasonable care to devise and operate a safe system of work.

 

There were no public policy considerations to exclude the imposition of such a duty.
 

The radio operator had assumed a responsibility to the police officers involved in the operation, including the claimant, to take reasonable care to listen to the radio and to respond to calls for assistance. M had wholly failed to discharge that duty and was in breach of his duty of care to the claimant.

 

C won

Mullin v Richards [1997] CA

 

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Whole case, here

 

[Tort – negligence - duty of care - foreseeability – standards expected]
D a 15-year-old schoolgirl had a "sword fight" with C with plastic rulers in their classroom. One of the rulers snapped and a piece of plastic entered C’s eye, causing permanent damage.

Held:  
Neither the teacher nor D had been negligent.  There was insufficient evidence that the accident had been foreseeable in what had been no more than a childish game.

C lost

Murphy v Brentwood District Council [1991] HL

[Tort – negligence - duty of care - general principles - the nature of negligence - duty of care - proving fault]
D, local authority negligently approved plans for the footings (a concrete raft) of a house that subsided.  C the house owner could not afford repairs and sold the house at a loss.

 

C alleged that he and his family had suffered an imminent risk to health and safety because gas and soil pipes had broken and there was a risk of further breaks.

 

Held: The damage suffered by C was not material or physical damage.  D was not liable for pure economic loss of the cost of remedying defects

 

To permit C to recover his economic loss would logically lead to an unacceptably wide category of claims in respect of buildings or chattels which were defective in quality, and would in effect introduce product liability and transmissible warranties of quality into the law of tort by means of judicial legislation.

 

C lost
Per curiam. It is unrealistic to regard a building or chattel which has been wholly erected or manufactured and equipped by the same contractor as a complex structure in which one part of the structure or chattel is regarded as having caused damage to other property when it causes damage to another part of the same structure or chattel, since the reality is that the structural elements in a building or chattel form a single indivisible unit of which the different parts are essentially interdependent and to the extent that there is a defect in one part of the structure or chattel it must to a greater or lesser degree necessarily affect all other parts of the structure. However, defects in ancillary equipment, manufactured by different contractors, such as central heating boilers or electrical installations may give rise to liability under ordinary principles of negligence.

 

Nettleship v Weston [1971] CA

 

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[Tort – negligence - duty of care – duty owed to others – learner drivers]
D a learner driver went out for her first lesson, supervised by a friend C. D crashed the car into a lamppost, and C was injured.

Held: Even learner drivers are to be judged against the standard of the reasonably competent driver. The fact that a particular driver is inexperienced and incompetent does not excuse his falling short of this standard. It matters not that a learner driver is doing her incompetent best.

C won damages subject to a deduction for contributory negligence.

Also here

Newman & others v United Kingdom Medical Research Council (1996) CA

 

Whole case, here

[Tort – negligence - duty of care - established when medical risk recognised]
Between 1959 and 1985, nearly two thousand children whose growth was stunted were treated with doses of Human Growth Hormone (HGH) extracted from the pituitaries of human cadavers. Many of them died of CJD.

Held: Research Council should have stopped trials and established whether drug was safe before continuing.

 

Ogwo v Taylor [1987] HL

 

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[Tort – negligence - duty of care - foreseeability]
D negligently set fire to his house while using a blowlamp. C a fireman was injured while fighting the fire.

Held:
C’s injuries were a foreseeable result of D's negligence, and it was irrelevant that he was employed as a fireman and expected to take risks as part of his job.

C won

OLL v Secretary of State for the Home Department (1996) QBD

 

 

 

[Tort – negligence - duty of care – no duty situations - public policy – no duty owed in operational matters]
D a company running outward-bound courses. Four teenagers drowned in Lyme Bay after their canoes capsized in heavy seas. They had been inadequately equipped, trained and supervised, and D1 had delayed calling for assistance. The company had been warned twelve months earlier of dangerous flaws in some of its working practices.

Held: Coastguard does not owe a duty of care in respect of rescue operations unless their activity led to greater injury than would have occurred if they had not been involved.

 

Orange v Chief Constable of West Yorkshire [2002] CA

[Tort - negligence - duty of care by police to prisoners known to be suicidal]

D, the police in whose custody the husband of C committed suicide, by hanging himself with his belt from the gate to the cell.

 

Held: The police were under a duty to take reasonable steps to identify whether or not a prisoner presented a suicide risk. The obligation to take reasonable care to prevent a prisoner from taking his own life only arose where the police knew or ought to have known that the individual prisoner presented a suicide risk, Reeves v Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis [2000] applied. The deceased was not a person whom the officers knew or ought to have known was a suicide risk.

 

C lost

Osman v Ferguson (1993) CA

 

[Tort – negligence - duty of care – no duty situations - public policy – breach – no duty of police in certain situations]
D the police, failed to stop a man shooting and killing C’s husband.

 

The man a teacher formed an unhealthy attachment with C’s 14-year-old son and began to harass him and his family.  It was known he might do something criminally insane.

Held: C had been exposed to a risk over and above that of the public there was an arguable case that there was a very close degree of proximity amounting to a special relationship between the C’s family and the investigating police officers.

 

However, following Hill, it would be against public policy to impose such a duty as it would not promote the observance of a higher standard of care by the police and would result in the significant diversion of police resources from the investigation and suppression of crime.

 

C lost

Osman v United Kingdom (1998) ECHR

 

[Tort – negligence - duty of care - Public policy – police owe no duty of care to public]
This case followed Osman v Ferguson.

Held: C’s husband's right to life had not been violated by inadequate police protection.
 

It might be necessary in a democratic society to restrict the extent to which the police are liable in negligence to members of the public. However, the broad exclusionary rule laid down in Hill, to which few exceptions could be made, meant in effect that C was denied a proper adjudication of her case on its merits, consequently her right to a fair trial had been violated.

 

Palmer v Tees HA [2000] CA

[Tort - negligence - duty of care - mental patients - no liability for murder of a child - lack of proximity - act of third party - just fair and reasonable]

D, the health authority responsible for a former patient undergoing out patient treatment who sexually abused and murdered a 4 year old.  C, the child's mother who suffered psychiatric illness as a result of the murder.

 

C claimed that D had failed in their obligation to recognise the real, substantial and serious risk that, a former patient undergoing outpatient treatment, would sexually abuse and murder a child and had failed to take appropriate steps to avoid or minimise the risk of him doing so.

 

Held:  There was no proximity between D the child and C.

 

In Barrett C had been in the care of D and no issue of proximity had been raised, and so was distinguished.

 

Caparo Industries Plc v Dickman [1990] and Marc Rich and Co AG v Bishop Rock Marine Co Ltd [1996] did not take account of third party intervention.

 

The court asked how the offences could have been avoided even if sufficient proximity were established.

 

C lost

Palsgraf v Long Island Railway Co (1928) New York Appeals

 

[Tort – negligence - duty of care – to whom owed - foreseeability of damage]
D employed a railway worker who carelessly knocked a box to the ground.  Unknown to him it contained fireworks which exploded on impact; the blast knocked a weighing machine onto C standing some distance away.

Held: injury to C was not foreseeable from the mere dropping of a box, and D was not liable for C’s injuries.

C lost

Paris v Stepney BC [1951] HL

 

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[Tort – negligence - duty of care - reasonableness of precautions]
D a Local Authority employed C as a garage mechanic. C had lost the sight of one eye during the war. In order to loosen a stiff bolt he struck it with a hammer; a piece of metal flew off and (because he was not wearing goggles) struck him in his good eye, causing him to become totally blind.

Held:  
The probability of such an event was very small, but its consequences were very serious, his employers, knowing of his disability, should have taken extra care to provide goggles for him. The more serious the possible damage, the greater the precautions that should be taken.

C won

Peabody Fund v Parkinson [1984] HL

[Tort - negligence - duty of care - requirement that it be fair and reasonable to impose a duty on a local authority]

D the local authority approved building plans for 245 houses which included flexible drains.  C installed rigid drains instead of flexible drains, on his architects' advice. The local authority's inspector was aware of the departure from the plans, but he did no use his power to require C to relay the drains.

Two years later the drains had to be re-laid resulting in loss of probably £1,000,000 to C.

 

Held: It was material to consider whether it was just and reasonable to impose a duty of care. C were responsible for ensuring that their own drains conformed with the approved plan. The local authority owed no duty to C to exercise their powers which exist for the protection of other persons - not for that of the person in default.  It was not reasonable or just to impose upon them a duty to pay for C's loss arising through the advice of their own architects and contractors

 

C could not say after the event "You knew what we were doing; you should have required us to stop."  That would allow the owner, without seeking new approval from the council, to throw that system to the winds in favour of a defective system, and then visit the consequences upon the council for not stopping him.

 

Lord Wilberforce in Anns v Merton London Borough Council [1978] said it was:

"necessary to consider 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 owed or the damages to which a breach of it may give rise ..."

C lost

Perrett v Collins (1998) CA

 

Whole case, here

[Tort – negligence - duty of care – just to impose – not restricted by cost of insurance or need for stricter regulation]
D built and flew a kit plane. C was a passenger.  The plane crashed C was injured.  The certifying authority and its inspector were both liable in negligence having certified an experimental aircraft as fit to be flown, and the duty extended to any passenger who was carried in the aircraft.

Held: Imposing a duty of care, members of the public would expect to be protected from injury by careful operation of the regulatory system, and to be compensated if injured by its negligent operation.

C won.

Phelps v Hillingdon London Borough (2000) HL

 

Whole case, here

 

[Tort – negligence - duty of care – no duty situations -public policy – special educational needs]
D a local authority employed E an educational psychologist to assess C who was under-performing at school.

E did not identify C’s dyslexia, C was thus not given the appropriate additional support, and C sued in negligence for the psychological and emotional harm she suffered.

Held:  Local education authorities could be vicariously liable for breaches by educational psychologists and teachers of their duty of care to pupils with special educational needs.

 

C won

R v Corydon Health Authority (1997) CA

 

Whole case, here

[Tort – negligence - duty of care – foreseeability of damage]
D x-rayed C as part of medical for job as nurse.  D failed to inform C and her GP of serious heart problem.  C had a child and later became depressively ill thinking she had reduced life expectancy.

Held: D not responsible for her becoming pregnant, damages reduced.

 

Reeves v Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis [1999] (HL)

 

Whole case here
 

[Tort - negligence - duty of care - police duty to suicidal prisoners - duty to care for others]

D the police arrested a prisoner who was a known suicide risk committed suicide whilst in their custody. Officers left open the hatch of the cell door and he took the opportunity to tie his shirt to it and thus strangle himself.

The judge held that the duty of care had been breached but inter alia  suicide was a novus actus interveniens; he assessed contributory negligence at 100 per cent.

 

Held:   Although persons of sound mind were generally taken to be responsible for their own actions, in rare situations a duty could be owed to such persons to prevent them from self harm. That had occurred in the instant case.

 

The duty represented an exception to the rule that a deliberate act by a person of sound mind taking advantage of the defendant's negligent act would destroy the causative link. A deliberate act of suicide was not a novus actus interveniens, if it were the very act which the duty sought to prevent would break the chain of causation.

 

L was held contributorily negligent and damages were reduced by 50 per cent to apportion fault equally.
 

C won reduced damages

[Comment] 100 percent contributory negligence is rare and arguably illogical; only a contribution between 1 - 99 percent is possible on strict reading of the Law Reform (Contributory Negligence) Act 1945 see also Pitts v Hunt [1990]

Rigby v Chief Constable of Northamptonshire (1985) QBD

[Tort – duty of care – private nuisance – no duty situations - public policy –duty owed in operational matters]
D, the police fired CS gas canisters into C’s shop, hoping to flush out a dangerous criminal who had taken refuge there. The shop caught fire and C sued for (inter alia) trespass.

Held
: Taylor J said it was common ground that projecting an article such as a canister onto another person's land from outside, without justification or lawful excuse, constituted a trespass. However, this had been a case of necessity.

C lost

Roberts v Ramsbottom [1980] QBD

[Tort – negligence - duty of care - drivers]
D suffered a partial stroke while driving, and drove on with impaired consciousness and collide with two parked vehicles.

Held: Since he retained some limited control he was still liable.  Only total unconsciousness or total lack of control would excuse him. Alternatively, D knew he had been taken ill and was therefore negligent in not stopping, even if he did not fully realise he was no longer fit to drive.

 

Roe v Minister of Health [1954] CA

 

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[Tort – negligence - duty of care - foreseeability of harm]
A spinal anaesthetic had become contaminated through invisible cracks in the glass vial, when used, paralysed two patients.

Held: The cracks were not foreseeable given the scientific knowledge of the time, The foreseeability of harm is clearly a major factor in determining how a reasonable person would act, and although actual foresight by D is generally irrelevant, a reasonable person would not have taken precautions against a risk of which reasonable people in that profession were not aware.

D not liable.

Rondel v Worsley (1969) HL

[Tort - negligence - duty of care - liability of lawyers - fair and reasonable test}

Overruled by Hall v Simons (2000)

Rylands v Fletcher [1866] HL

[Tort – negligence - duty of care -  proving fault - strict liability]
B constructed a reservoir which flooded A's mineshafts.  B employed a competent engineer and a contractor, to construct the reservoir.

A had use of some mines under B's land. Some old unused passages ran vertically up to B's land but they were blocked with clay and earth. No care was taken to block up these shafts, and shortly after water had been introduced into the reservoir it broke through some of the shafts, flowed through the old passages, and flooded A’s mine.

 

Held: A was entitled to recover damages from B in respect of this injury, although there was no precedent.

 

Sayers v Harlow UDC [1958] CA

 

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[Tort – negligence - duty of care - foreseeability of damage]
D a local authority provided public toilets. When C tried to leave the cubicle, she found the handle was missing. After trying for fifteen minutes to attract attention, she tried to climb out by standing on the toilet roll holder, but the roll rotated and C slipped and fell, injuring herself.

Held: Her actions were not unreasonable in the circumstances and the injury was a natural and foreseeable consequence of DD's negligence, and not too remote. However, her damages were reduced by 25% for her negligence in relying on the toilet roll as a secure foothold.

 

Sirros v Moore [1974] CA

[Judges immunity extends to acts done in good faith]
D appealed to the Crown Court against a magistrate's recommendation for his deportation. The judge dismissed the appeal and when saw D about to walk out of his court he called upon the police to stop him.

 

Held: D's claim for damages for assault and false imprisonment failed. Although the judge's order was unlawful (D had not been remanded in custody) the judge’s immunity extended even to acts beyond his jurisdiction as long as they were done in good faith.

 

Also here

[comment] this case was not brought in negligence but habeas corpus, but it illustrates the extent of public policy.

Smith v Cribben [1994] CA

[Tort - negligence - duty of care - liability for omissions - no liability to assist another driver to complete a dangerous manoeuvre]

C overtook D dangerously on a dual carriageway and the room for completing the overtaking ran out. D did not slow down to allow him to complete the overtake. C collided with oncoming traffic where the dual carriageway became a single carriageway.

 

Held: D was not negligent in continuing to drive at a steady speed instead of slowing down.

 

D won

Smith v Leech Brain & Co (1962) QBD

 

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[Tort – negligence - duty of care - foreseeability of damage]
D the employers of a workman who was slightly splashed by molten metal through his employers' negligence and suffered a burn on his face. The burn aggravated a pre-existing cancerous condition and the man died. C his widow sued.

Held: "Injury to the person" was regarded as a single kind of damage and some minor injury at least was foreseeable.


C won

Smith v Littlewoods Organisation Ltd [1987] HL

 

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[Tort – negligence - duty of care - foreseeability or type of harm - omission to act - no general duty]
D owned a disused cinema where a fire was started by vandals the fire caused damage to neighbouring properties. The question was were the cinema owners under a duty of care to prevent the unlawful entry by vandals and whether the fire damage  was reasonably foreseeable by the cinema’s owners. The owners of the damaged properties had not informed either the cinema’s owners or the police about the regular entry into the cinema by unauthorised persons and the evidence of attempts at starting fires.

 

Held: There was no general duty of care, in all cases, to prevent a third party from causing damage to a claimant or his property by the third party’s deliberate wrongdoing.  But, as the cinema owners did not know about previous acts of vandalism, the starting of the fire was not reasonably foreseeable by the cinema’s owners and therefore, there was specific duty to prevent vandals doing what they did.

 

Cinema owners not liable

Smoldon v Whitworth [1997] CA

[Tort - negligence -duty of care- omissions - referee owes duty to young players whom he should be controlling]
D was negligent in the refereeing of an under-19 colts' rugby match, in the course of which C (aged 17) sustained a broken neck after a scrum collapsed. There were a 3 or 4 times the normal number collapsed scrums during the game.
 

Held:  The referee owed a duty to the players, although he would not be held liable for oversights or errors of judgment that might easily be made during a competitive and fast-moving game.

 

One of the duties of a referee was to ensure the players' safety and would be liable for the foreseeable resulting spinal injuries.

 

It was not open to D to argue that C had consented to the risk of injury by participating voluntarily in the scrum. C might have consented to the ordinary risks of the game, but could not be said to have agreed to D's breach of duty in failing to apply the rules intended to protect players from injury.

 

C won

[comment] this case was the first case of negligence against a referee

Spartan Steel v Martin [1972] CA

 

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[Tort – negligence - duty of care – damages – public policy]
DD While digging a trench negligently cut off the electricity supply to PC’s steelworks.

Held: The value of the "melt" that was ruined by the power cut, including the profit directly associated with it was allowed.
However, C did not succeed for loss of profits on four further melts that could have been completed during the period that the supply was cut off.

The reason was probably the fear of opening the floodgates to many similar claims if a contractor severed the power supply to a whole estate or even a small town.

C won.

Stansbie v Troman [1948] CA

[Tort - negligence - duty of care - created by contract]
D decorator was left alone on the premises by the householder's wife. During her absence, he left the house to obtain wall-paper. He failed to secure the behind him. During the his absence a thief entered the house and stole property.

Held:

1. A duty of care was created by the contractual relationship.

2. It was a breach of that duty to leave the front door insecure

3. As a direct result of that breach of duty that the theft occurred.

 

C won

Stovin v Wise (1996) HL

 

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[Tort – negligence - duty of care - liability for omissions - no duty situation]
D (the local authority) failed to order the removal a railway bank on railway land adjacent to the road.  It had the power order the removal to improve road safety; it restricted visibility at the junction. C a motorcyclist was injured by a car that emerged from a side road. 

 

Held: D had no duty of care to C in respect of this hazard. Even a statutory duty does not automatically give a private right of action. 

A statutory power does not create a common law duty to be exercised.  Unless it would be irrational not to exercise that power. 

There must be exceptional grounds for holding that the policy of the statute requires compensation to be paid to persons who suffer loss because it is not exercised.

C lost

Applied in Gorringe v Calderdale Metropolitan Borough Council [2004] HL

Sutherland Shire Council v Heyman [1985] High Court of Australia

 

[Tort – negligence - duty of care - development]

D the council had approved plans for C's house that suffered subsidence because of inadequate footings,

 

Held:  As a general rule, the ordinary principles of the law of negligence apply to public authorities.

 

Brennan J expressed the view that “the law should develop novel categories of negligence incrementally and by analogy with established categories." That approach was endorsed by Lord Bridge in Caparo Industries PLC v Dickman [1990] and by Lord Keith in Murphy v Brentwood DC [1991]

 

D won

Swinney v Chief Constable of Northumbria Police (1996) CA

 

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[Tort – negligence - duty of care - no duty situations - public policy – police – possible exception]
C gave information to the police D helping identify the driver X of a vehicle, which had killed a police officer. The information was given in confidence. C’s name and address were left in a police car, which was stolen and the information came into the hands of X.  C consequently suffered threats and psychiatric injury.

Held: The decisions in Hill and Osman had left open a possible exception to public policy immunity where the police or CPS voluntarily assumed responsibility, as they had done in this case by receiving the confidential information. Moreover, public policy pointed not only towards police immunity but also towards the protection of informants.

C won.

The Wagon Mound (1961) PC

 

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Overseas Tankship v Morts Dock (The Wagon Mound (No 1)) [1961] PC

Overseas Tankship v Miller Steamship (The Wagon Mound (No 2)) [1966] PC

 

[Tort – negligence - duty of care - foreseeability of damage]
D the owner of a ship from which oil was spilled, C the owners of the dockyard whose workman on the wharf caused the oil to ignite by sparks.  The fire caused extensive damage to the wharf and dockside buildings.

Held: If some damage, even minor damage, of a particular kind was foreseeable, then D would be liable for all such damage irrespective of the foreseeability of its extent and its immediate cause.  However, in this case, the risk of fire could not have been foreseen.  The risk of pollution could be foreseen.  C was loath to admit the foreseeability of the fire risk because it was their workmen who actually set the oil alight.

C lost.

The owners of other ships damaged in the fire brought a second action, and evidence was given that the risk of fire was foreseeable, though admittedly very small. The potential consequences of that unlikely occurrence were so serious as to give rise to a duty of care to avoid it.

C2 won.

Thompson v Blake-James (1998)

 

Whole case, here

 

[Tort – negligence - duty of care – causation - intervening events]
D a doctor advised C, the parents of a child not to have a measles vaccination. Child caught measles and suffered brain damage.  Child’s history suggested to D that immunisation would be more harmful than to most children.

Held: The advice given by other doctors to whom C had consulted was an intervening event.  It broke the chain of causation because the parents were not acting on D’s advice.

C lost.

Thompson v Smith Shiprepairers (North Shields) (1984) QBD

[Tort – negligence - duty of care – the standard of reasonableness - level of precautions – common practice]
D shipyard owners.  C worker who suffered deafness.

Held
: Although conditions were common across the industry they fell below the required standard of care.  D could not evade liability just by proving that all the other employers were just as bad.

There were some circumstances in which an employer had a duty to take the initiative to look at the risks and seek out precautions to protect workers.

However, this approach must still be balanced against the practicalities.  Employers were not expected to have standards way above the rest of their industry, though they were expected to keep their knowledge and practices in the field of safety up to date.


C won

Three Rivers DC v Bank of England (No.3) [2000] HL

[Tort - negligence - duty of care - cause of action - EC law - and tort of misfeasance in public office requires reckless indifference]
TRDC and other creditors of BCCI, a bank in liquidation, brought proceedings against the Bank of England for misfeasance in public office.

 

It was alleged that senior bank officials within the Bank of England had acted in bad faith when originally granting BCCI a banking licence as they had deliberately overlooked the ongoing operation of BCCI subsequent to granting the licence and, furthermore, had failed to close down BCCI when it was known that such action was necessary.

 

It was also alleged that the Bank of England had acted in breach of the requirements contained within Council Directive 77/780.

 

Held: The Common Law tort of misfeasance in public office arose where the actions of a public officer were carried out in the knowledge of, or with reckless indifference to the probability of, injury being caused to a plaintiff, or a class of persons of which the plaintiff was a member.

 

Liability arose where a public officer acted beyond his powers and in the knowledge that such actions would probably result in injury to the plaintiff. Reckless indifference was sufficient to establish liability.

 

No obligations were imposed on Member States under Council Directive 77/780, the Directive did not establish a general duty to supervise nor, when circumstances required it, an obligation to withdraw authorisation.

 

C lost in part the litigation continued

Topp v London Country Bus (South West) Ltd [1993] CA

[Tort - negligence - duty of care - omissions - actions of third parties]

D, a bus company left a mini-bus parked in a public place with the keys in the ignition, the bus was stolen, and, in the course of the theft, was involved in an accident in which a woman cyclist was killed. C, her husband (and daughter) brought an action against the bus company for negligence. The vehicle was left at a changeover point that normally took 8 minutes, on this occasion it rested there for nine hours.

 

Held: The bus company may have been negligent to leave the bus with the keys in, in an easily accessible place, they could not be held responsible for the accident as it had occurred through the voluntary act of a third party over whom they had no control

 

C lost

Ultramares Corporation v Touche (1931) New York

[Tort - negligence - duty of care in misstatement cases -"floodgates" argument - Cardozo and the "indeterminate class"]

Accountants who prepared and certified a balance sheet owed no duty to banks and other lenders, who advanced money in reliance on the accounts.

 

[comment] In claims for damages for economic loss resulting from negligent misstatements, there is a potential for foreseeable but indeterminate and possibly ruinous loss by a large and indeterminate class of claimants. Foreseeability of reliance by itself is not an adequate limiting factor. Courts have been concerned to avoid, in the well-known words of Cardozo CJ, 'liability in an indeterminate amount for an indeterminate time to an indeterminate class'.

This is the "Floodgates" argument
 

Vaughan v Menlove (1837)

 

[Tort – negligence - duty of care – breach of duty of care – test of reasonableness]
D built a haystack.  C neighbour occupied cottage near haystack. D was advised that the haystack was poorly ventilated and could catch fire, which it did.  D who was insured said he would ‘chance it’.

Held: Although D had acted honestly and in accordance with his best judgment, this was not enough, a reasonable person would have taken precautions.

C won.

Vowles v Evans and Welsh Rugby Union Ltd [2003] CA

 

 

Whole case, here

[Tort – negligence – duty of care – proximity - foreseeability - just fair and reasonable - referee owes duty to players]
DD the referee of a rugby match and the sport’s governing body.  C injured and confined to a wheel chair when a scrum (where players bend over and push each other) collapsed.  C’s position was hooker (right in the middle of the scrum). 

Held: A referee and player have sufficient proximity, it was foreseeable that if the referee did not enforce the rules there would be injury (that is what the rules are there to prevent). 
It was just, fair and reasonable to impose a duty of care. There was a structured relationship, the referees acts or omissions were manifestly capable of causing physical harm to others, and in such circumstances the law will normally impose a duty of care.

A referee of a game of rugby football owes a duty of care to the players. The court did not consider it logical to draw a distinction between amateur and professional rugby.

The referee had breached that duty of care, the referee had been in a position no more than basic skill and competence at that level of the game (see Bolam).

 

Lord Phillips, MR:

Rugby football is an inherently dangerous sport. Some of the rules are specifically designed to minimise the inherent dangers. Players are dependant for their safety on the due enforcement of the rules. The role of the referee is to enforce the rules. Where a referee undertakes to perform that role, it seems to us manifestly fair, just and reasonable that the players should be entitled to rely upon the referee to exercise reasonable care in so doing. Rarely if ever does the law absolve from any obligation of care a person whose acts or omissions are manifestly capable of causing physical harm to others in a structured relationship into which they have entered. Mr Leighton Williams has failed to persuade us that there are good reasons for treating rugby football as an exceptional case. A referee of a game of rugby football owes a duty of care to the players.”

[Comment] This is the first case involving an amateur game. The court applied Caparo Plc. v Dickman [1990] HL and a line of cases where the sport's governing body has been held responsible for the safety of the players or participants.  For example, the brain damage suffered by the boxer Michael Watson and his claim for negligence against the British Board of Boxing Control had forced the governing body into bankruptcy.

 

C won

Also here

W v Essex County Council (1998) HL

 

Whole case, here

 

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[Tort – negligence - duty of care –no duty situations - statutory duty - duty of care, to whom]
D, the council placed a known sex offender with foster parents C. C’s children were abused.  C made it clear that they were anxious not to put their children at risk by having a known sex abuser in their home, the social worker and D knew that and also knew that the boy placed had already committed an act or acts of sex abuse. The risk was obvious and the abuse happened.

Held: It was plainly arguable that there was a duty of care owed to the parents and a breach of that duty by the defendants.

C won.

Ward v Tesco Stores Ltd [1976] CA

[Tort - negligence - duty of care - evidential burden lies on D to negative want of care]

D the well known supermarket. C a shopper who was injured after slipping on some spilt yoghourt.

 

Held: C did not need to establish how long the spillage had been on the floor and that the judge was entitled to conclude that the defendants had not discharged the evidential burden upon them of showing that they had taken all reasonable precautions.

 

C won

[comment] this case succeeded in negligence but the Occupiers Liability Act 1957 could have been pleaded.

Watson v BBBC (1999) CA

 

Whole case, here

 

 

[Tort – negligence - duty of care – proximity created by sports regulating body]
D the British Boxing Board of Control failed to provide sufficient medical care at the ringside.  C a boxer suffered severe brain damage following an injury in the ring, but the evidence suggested his injuries would have been less severe had better medical attention been available at the ringside.

Held:  The sport's controlling body owed a duty of care to those who took part. Injury was foreseeable. The licensing system created proximity, and in all the circumstances it was just, fair and reasonable to impose such a duty.

The duty alleged was not a duty to take care to avoid causing personal injury, but rather a duty to take reasonable care to ensure that personal injuries already sustained were properly treated;

C won

Watt v Hertfordshire PP [1954] CA

 

Red Triangle indicates important information

 

[Tort – negligence - duty of care – factors – risk involved – balance of risk and value]
D local authority that ran the fire brigade.  C a fire fighter was injured by equipment that slipped on the back of a lorry.  The lorry was used to carry heavy lifting equipment needed at a serious road accident where a person was trapped. The lorry, which usually carried the equipment, was engaged in other work at the time, and the fire officer ordered the equipment be loaded into the back of an ordinary lorry.

Held:  Denning LJ:

One must balance the risk against the end to be achieved. The saving of life or limb justified the taking of considerable risks, and in cases of emergency, the standard of care demanded is adjusted accordingly.

C lost

Wells v Cooper [1958] CA

 

Red Triangle indicates important information

[Tort – negligence - duty of care – standard of care]
D fitted a door handle in his home. C a visitor pulled on the handle and it came away in his hand, causing the visitor to fall down several steps.

Held: D was to be judged against the standards of a reasonably competent carpenter, but not necessarily against the standards that would be expected of a professional carpenter working for reward. This was the sort of job that a reasonable householder might do for himself, and that was the appropriate standard.

C lost.

White and others v Chief Constable of South Yorkshire and others [1998] HL

 

Whole case here

[Tort -  negligence - duty of care - rescuers no entitlement to damages for pure psychiatric injury for police officers]
D the Chief Constable and employer of 4 officers, C who had all suffered post traumatic stress disorder as a result of their involvement in the aftermath of the Hillsborough Football Stadium disaster.

 

D admitted that the disaster had been caused by police negligence.

 

Held: D owed officers under him a duty analogous to that of an employer to care for the safety of employees and to take reasonable steps to protect them from physical harm, but there was no extension of that duty to protect from psychiatric injury where there was no breach of the duty to protect from physical injury.

 

It was not possible to classify C as primary victims, since none of them were at any time exposed to personal danger nor reasonably believed themselves to be so.

 

Recognition of C's claims would significantly widen the established categories of cases for which damages could be recovered for pure psychiatric harm and to allow the claims would not fit easily with the decision in Alcock v Chief Constable of South Yorkshire [1992] to deny compensation to bereaved relatives of victims of the disaster who had not witnessed events at first hand or acted as rescuers.
 

C lost

Wilson v Governors of Sacred Heart RC Primary School, Carlton (1997) CA

 

Whole case, here

[Tort – negligence - duty of care – common practice]
D a school, C a nine-year-old boy who was hit in the eye by a coat belonging to another boy.  Attendants were provided to supervise the children during lunch break but not a going home time.

Held: Most primary schools do not supervise children at this time and the incident could as easily happened outside the school gates.  The school had not fallen below the standard of care.

C lost

Wisniewski v Central Manchester Health Authority (1998) CA

 

Whole case, here

[Tort – negligence - duty of care –special characteristics of defendant]
D heath authority employed midwife who negligently failed to show cardiograph indicating there were problems to the doctor.  C child who had cerebral palsy caused by complications at birth.

Held: Adverse inference drawn about Dr’s conduct he did not attend trial and did not remember the birth.  Inference was that Dr had no answer to C’s complaint, which was supported by expert evidence that no reasonable doctor would have delayed examining the patient.  Bolitho followed.

C won.

X & Others v Bedfordshire County Council (1995) HL

 

[overruled]

[Tort – negligence - duty of care - development -breach – proximity - no duty situations -public policy – local authorities – statutory duties]
D local authorities. Combined appeals (abuse cases, and education cases).  C two children who alleged negligent treatment of claims of child abuse.  In one case, the child was left with its parents and suffered further harm, in the other it was unnecessarily taken away from them. 

In the education cases the issue was whether special education needs had been met.

Held: Where a statutory discretion was conferred on a public authority, nothing the authority could do within the ambit of that discretion was actionable at common law.

If a new duty of care by local authorities were established, many more claims would be brought placing further strain on an already overstretched system.

No duty of care would be imposed on local authorities fulfilling their public law duties towards children in need.

C lost abuse case
C lost education cases because the LA had no duty of care.  But it was held that the LA could be liable, both directly and vicariously, for negligent advice given by their professional employees.

Per curiam. The report of a psychiatrist instructed to carry out the examination of the child for the specific purpose of discovering whether the child has been sexually abused and (if possible) the identity of the abuser has such an immediate link with possible proceedings in pursuance of a statutory duty that such investigations cannot be made the basis of subsequent claims.

 

Subequently:

This case was referred to the ECHR and there was called Z and others v The United Kingdom (2001) UCHR.  The UCHR found against the UK for not providing a remedy to the children.

This case could not survive the Human Rights Act and was overturned by D v East Berkshire Community NHS Trust and others [2003] CA

 

Yuen Kun Yeu v Attorney General of Hong Kong
(PC) [1988]

[Tort - negligence - duty of care - omissions]
D, a commissioner licensed deposit-takers in Hong Kong. C deposited money with a licensed deposit-taker who went into liquidation, and he lost the money. C alleged that D knew, or ought to know that the deposit-taker was a fraudster, so was negligent licensing the deposit-taker.

 

Held: The requirements for duty of care were foreseeability of harm, and a close and direct relationship of proximity between the parties. Only rarely would the question of whether public policy required the conclusion of liability fall to be considered.

Since the commissioner had no day-to-day control over the deposit-taker there was no proximity, and the nature of the ordinance was not such as to warrant reliance by Y on the soundness of a deposit-taker licensed under it.

 

Lord Keith:

"Foreseeability of harm is a necessary ingredient of such a relationship, but it is not the only one. Otherwise there would be liability in negligence on the part of one who sees another about to walk over a cliff with his head in the air, and forbears to shout a warning."

C lost

Z and others v The United Kingdom (2001) ECHR

 

Summary of case here

 

Red triangle indicating important text

[Tort – negligence - duty of care - no duty situations in respect of local authorities – can not survive the Human Rights Act]

The parties in X & Others v Bedfordshire County Council (1995) HL took their case to the ECHR.

 

Held:  There was no dispute that the neglect and abuse suffered by the four child applicants reached the threshold of inhuman and degrading treatment. The UK failed in its positive obligation under Article 3 of the Convention to provide the applicants with adequate protection against inhuman and degrading treatment.

Although the applicants’ had not been afforded a remedy in the courts, the Court found no violation of Article 6, their remedy was under Article 3 and 13.

The applicants did not have available to them an appropriate means of obtaining a determination of their allegations or the possibility of obtaining an enforceable award of compensation for the damage suffered thereby. Consequently, they were not afforded an effective remedy in respect of the breach of Article 3 and there had, accordingly, been a violation of Article 13.

 

Applicants succeeded

 

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