Law04 - Duty Of Care

Establishing a duty of care

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  • Created by: Simone
  • Created on: 11-06-11 19:11

Duty Of Care

Definition of duty of care:

One person has a responsibilty to take proper care not to injure or cause loss to another.

HOW to establish duty:

The House of Lords developed a single test to decide when one person owes a duty to another. This step was taken in the case of Donoghue v Stevenson.

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Courts were quick to see a duty of care existed in reoccurring circumstances:

  • A manufacturer of goods owes a duty of care to the consumer of the goods.
  • A user of the road owes a duty to other users on the road.
  • A professional person owes a duty to his client to practise his profession properly.
  • An employer owes his employees a duty to keep them safe in the workplace.
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Duty of care can be extended to cover new circumstances. The courts have adopted a restrictive approach, following the decision in Caparo v Dickman.

Duty of care exists if:

  • It is reasonably foreseeable to the defendant, that his negligence will cause injury, damage or loss to the claimant.
  • There is a relationship of close proximity between the two parties.
  • It would be just, reasonable and fair to impose liability.
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Criticisms of the three part test:

  • It is not precise as it's difficult to know what fair, just and reasonable entails.
  • Some elements involved overlap.

Therefore, the courts will also consider the following questions of policy:

  • Which party is in the better position to buy insurance.
  • Whether the claimant should have responsibility to look after themselves.
  • Whether it is likely that a new duty will prevent future activities.
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Case examples of the reasoning in these decisions:

  • Watson v British Boxing Board
  • Calvert v William Hill
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