Tort Law (Negligence) - Res Ipsa Loquitur


Definition of Res Ipsa Loquitur

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Tort Law ­ Negligence
Definition ­ Res Ipsa Loquitur
1. The burden of proof is usually on the claimant to prove that the defendant has breached
his/her duty.
2. Res Ipsa Loquitur is used where there is an obvious case of breach but it's difficult to
3. If the Res Ipsa Loquitur rule is used, the burden of proof shifts so that the defendant
will have to prove that he/she has not breached their duty.
4. This can be seen as a three part test:
1) The defendant had control over the thing that caused the harm
2) The accident that caused the damage would not have happened unless someone had
been negligent.
3) There is no other explanation of the injury caused to the claimant.
5. Example: In Scott v London and St Katherine Docks, the claimant was a customs officer
on the Docks and was passing by a window of a warehouse and six bags of sugar fell on
him. The warehouse had control over the bags of sugar that caused the damage. The
bags of sugar would not have fallen if the factory had been more careful about stocking
them next to a window and there was no other explanation for what happened so the
defendants were liable and had to pay compensation.
6. The claimant does not have to prove his case as the conditions were fulfilled.
The burden of proof shifts on to the defendant who has the chance to prove he
was not negligent and there was another explanation for the injury caused to
the claimant.


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