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Sutradhar v Natural Environment Research Council

[2006] UKHL 33

Case summary last updated at 18/01/2020 19:06 by the Oxbridge Notes in-house law team.

Judgement for the case Sutradhar v Natural Environment Research Council

 R wrote a report for a govt agency on water irrigation in Bangladesh, but it did not test for arsenic. P drank the water and suffered arsenic poisoning and sued R. HL dismissed the claim, saying: (1) that since R’s mandate did not include arsenic testing and had nothing to do with creating the water supply, it owed no duty of care to anyone regarding whether the water was harmful; the fact that a person with expert knowledge chooses to investigate one thing does not create a duty to investigate all other things in the category i.e. f they test for sulphur they don’t also have to investigate arsenic; it was NOT reasonably foreseeable that people would rely on the report as meaning that the water was safe to drink. 
 
The HL say the test for the existence of a duty of care is whether the damage was reasonably foreseeable, whether there was sufficient “proximity” between the claimant and the defendant, and whether it was fair, just and reasonable to impose a duty. Here, there was no proximity since R had no control over the water supply or mandate to determine whether the water was safe to drink

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