as law - unit 2 - civil liability - Proving damage

Revison cards on proving damage;

  • Wagon mound principle/ foreseeability
  • Multiple causes
  • Thin skull rule
HideShow resource information

Proving damage - Wagon Mound principle

In order to prove damage was caused by negligence we need to consider the remoteness of the damage

  • Is the damage reasonably foreseeable?
  • Take the victim as you find them

A remoteness issue can limit the extent of a D's liability

Even though damage ca be suffered as a result of a breach of duty it doesn't necessarily mean that a D is liable - defendant tis liable if the damage is foreseeable

Wagon mound principle - Overseas tankship UK v Morts docks + engineering company - Ships engineering threw oil into water, oil floted on water towards the dock, someone was weilding and a spark hit the oil, ignited oil and burnt down the harbour.

Wagon mound principle states 'if damage is too remote there is no liability'

1 of 5

Other cases linked to foreseeability + think skull

Doughty v Turner manufacturing co - Claimant was near 'cauldren' of molten metal, ceiling tile containing asbestos fell into it, caused explosion, claiment was injured. - Never tested asbestos at that temprature before so it wasn't foreseeable - not liable

Hughes v Lord Advocate - 2 men working in manhole with tent over, went on break + left parriin lamps outside, 2 kids got lamps and went in tent, fell down man hole, parrifin exploded and caused injuries - was foreseeable and therefore they were liable

Thin Skull Rule

Thin skull rule states that you must take your victim as your find them

smith v Leech Brain + co - Claiment had a mole, splashed in face by molten metal, thsi caused cancer + led to death - had to take the victim as they found them.

2 of 5

Damage caused by D's breach of duty?

For the claim to be successful the damage must have been caused by the D's breach of duty

There are 2 things to consider 

  • To prove the breach of duty caused the harm
  • To prove the injury is significantly linked to the breach of duty

Causation in fact - can we show one thing led to another?

To do this we use the 'but for test' - 'would the victim have suffered the harm but for the actions of the defendant?

Barnet V Chelsea and Kensington hospital management committee.  - 3 men at work made tea in a pot that had contained arsenic, didn't know this, got ill, went hospital, treated them + sent them home thinking it was gastroenteritis, they died. - Deaths not the fault of hospital as no way of stopping arsenic poisoning once ingested, did break duty of care as they failed to look for other causes of their symptoms but it was ruled no liability as there was no causation 

3 of 5

Multiple causes + intervening acts (novus actus in

If there is potentially more than one cause we need to go with the ‘most likely’ cause. 

Fairchild V Glenhaven funeral services – developed asbestosis but more than one party could have been responsible the development of this. – No liability as there are potentially multiple cases.

Baker V chorusSpecial circumstances and the ‘but for test’ was modified in the type of situation to ensure equal liability.

Intervening events can sometimes shift of change liability - Even if there is a breach of duty sometimes an intervening act can remove liability.

Smith v Littlewoods - construction company finished + locked up, vandals broke in and set fire which spread to next door - claimant (shop owner) lost case as neighbourhood was good and therefore not foreseeable

Corr V IBC vehicles (2006) – Man was at work, machinery fell on head, caused head injuries. Due to injuries defendant, because depressed, committed suicide - Intervening act was not considered to have broken the chain of causation and therefore defendant is liable. 

4 of 5

Have the actions of the defendant caused the harm to the claimant?

YES - if there are not multiple causes ( unless it is an asbestosis case)

YESif there is not an intervening event which removes changes/changing liability.

5 of 5


No comments have yet been made

Similar Law resources:

See all Law resources »See all Law of Tort resources »