as law - unit 2 - civil liability - How do we know if a duty of care is breached

Revision cards on;

  • Special characteristics of defendant / claiment
  • size of the risk
  • have all precautions been taken?
  • benefits of the risk

Special characteristics of defendant

Once we have established that a duty of care is owed we must decide if the duty of care has been breached by the D failing to act in the manner of a reaosnable man.

Wells v Cooper - man fixed door handle, claiment fell down outside stairs - Defendant not liable as performed task to standard of reasonable man.

There are 5 things to consider when looking at breach of duty 

 special chaacteristics of the defendant

Nettleship v Weston - D is a leanrer driver, crashed and injured claiment 'instrustor'. - judge ruled the learner driver should still be able to drive to standard of reasonable man.

Bolam v Friern Barnet hospital committee - Man had ECT but no muscle relaxant given, broke bone, - In court was 50/50 on whether or not to give muscle relaxtant , decided that as long as one of the bodies of opinons was followed they had not breached their duty of care.

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Special characteristics of the claiment

A duty of care can be elevated if there are any special charateristics of the claiment that may make them more vulnerable. e.g - elderly people, disabled, children.

Paris v Stepney Borough Council - C worked in garage and was bilnd in one eye, hit in eye while wokring, blind in both eyes - Increased duty of care to someone with a physical disability 

Walker v Northumberland city council - man left work due to stress, something should have been put in place to stop stress when he returned to work - increased duty of care to someone with a mental health problem

Morrell v Owen - 2 events at disabled sproting event next to each other, discuss was thrown and hit a woman on other side causing brain damage. - increased duty of care to those who have a disability and also if its a potentially dangerous activity

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The size of the risk

If an activity is risky the duty of care is elevated 

Bolton v Stone - Woman walking past cricket club,cricket club had large wall around it, hit with ball from over the wall. - Risk was so small the elevated duty of care didn't exist 

Hayley v London electricity board - Workers working in man hole, Left spanner as warning for man hole, blind man didn't detect spanner, fell down hole - duty of care elevated as leaving the tool as a warning was too risky as people may not see it. 

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Have all practical precautions been taken?

We must consider if all practical precautions were taken to stop the risk from occuring

Bolton v Stone - practical precautions were taken

Hayley v London electricity board - practical precautions were not taken

Latimer v AEC - oil spill on floor, saw dust put down to soak up spill, signs put up, workers warned before entering, claimant slipped and fell - all practical precautions had been taken, a breach of duty had therefore not occurred

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Benefit of the risk

In an emergency situation the duty of care is lowered

Watt v Hereford city council - fire fighter responding to 999 call, injured lifting equipment which fell of a lorry- not attached properly, Needed to save someone's life - Duty of care lowered as benefit (saving a life) outweighed the risk (injury to a fire fighter) - Duty of care not breached

Day v High performance sports - professional rock climber climbing inside and got to top, rope not tied properly, she froze, manager attempted to save her but she fell before he could, hit her head that caused brain damage - duty of care not breached as benefit of saving her outweighed not saving her. 

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very detailed



This is brilliant, so helpful :) one thing though, it's claimant, not claiment, just in case you go into the exam with all this knowledge and spell that wrong lol! x

Bethan Goy


haha thanks .. still have stuff to add to this :) .. and yeah i should probably pell check this :) x

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