The Tort of Negligence - Damage

Revision notes showing how damage is proven when dealing with a Duty of Care.

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The claimant must prove that the damage was caused by the breach o duty.
Causation in fact
-The "But for" test
Barnett V Chelsea and Kensington Hospitals
-Three night watchmen went to hospital accident and emergency department complaining of
sickness after drinking tea made by a fourth man. The doctor would not see them and told them to
go and see their GPs in the morning. One of them died and the wife tried to sue however the man
would have died anyway, therefore the breach of duty did not cause damage.
Remoteness of Damage
The Defendant is liable for damage only if it is the foreseeable consequence of the breach of
The Wagon Mound
Fuel oil had been spilt negligently onto water in a harbour. Two days later it caught fire during
some wielding work on another ship.
Held: Although the damage to the wharf was a result of the oil being spilled. It was too
remote from the original act. If the oil had been spilt into the wharf and damaged it then that
would've been reasonably foreseeable.
The type of damage must be reasonably foreseeable
As long as the type of damage is foreseeable, it does not matter that the form it takes I
Hughes V Lord Advocate
Post office workman left a manhole unattended covered only with a tent and with paraffin
lamps by the hole. Two boys climbed in to the hole. On their way out the boys knocked one
of the lamps into the hole, this caused an explosion and badly burned the claimants.
Held: The boy was able to claim for his injuries since it was foreseeable that a child might
explore the site, break a lamp and be burnt. The type of injury was foreseeable so even
though the explosion was not foreseeable the defendants were liable.
Thin Skull Rule
Smith V Leech Brain Co
The claimant suffered a minor burn on his face by metal. The burn triggered his pre-existing
cancerous condition and the claimant developed cancer. Some minor injury at least was

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His extreme reaction was a result of his condition as the principle is that you
take a person as you find them, the claim succeeded.…read more


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