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.
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.
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.
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.
Case examples of the reasoning in these decisions:
- Watson v British Boxing Board
- Calvert v William Hill