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GDL Law Notes GDL Tort Law Notes

General Negligence Notes

Updated General Negligence Notes

GDL Tort Law Notes

GDL Tort Law

Approximately 591 pages

A collection of the best GDL notes the director of Oxbridge Notes (an Oxford law graduate) could find after combing through applications from top students and carefully evaluating each on accuracy, formatting, logical structure, spelling/grammar, conciseness and "wow-factor". In short these are what we believe to be the strongest set of GDL notes available in the UK this year. This collection of GDL notes is fully updated for recent exams, also making them the most up-to-date GDL study materials ...

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Tort Law : General Negligence

Structure for a general neg claim

  • Claimant & Defendant

  • Loss

  • DoC

  • Breach

  • Causation

  • Remoteness (reasonably foreseeable)

  • Defences

Duty of Care (DoC)

  • ‘Neighbour Principle’ (Lord Atkin, Donoghue v Stevenson).

  • Home Office v Dorset Yacht: can owe duty for tort committed by 3rd party.

  • Hedley Byrne v Heller: DoC re economic loss by negligent misstatement.

  • Caparo v Dickman (1990) Caparo test:

    • (1) look for precedent.

    • If no precedent, apply 3-stage test:

    • (1) damage to C reasonably foreseeable (objective)?

    • (2) Relationship of sufficient proximity between C and D.

    • (3) is it ‘fair, just & reasonable’ to impose duty (policy).

      • Floodgates of litigation

      • Insurance

      • Crushing liability/loss allocation

      • Deterrence/maintaining high standards

      • Defensive practices

      • Justice

  • Egs of use of Caparo, extension:

    • Watson v British Boxing Board of Control: held: DoC found: injury foreseeable; boxing licensing system meant proximity; fair, just & reasonable.

    • Law Society v KPMG Peat Marwick: firm of auditors owed DoC to Law Society in preparing reports.

    • Spring v Guardian Assurance: D owed DoC to give careful job references.

    • White v Jones: solicitor owed DoC to beneficiary of a will.

  • Incremental approach

Recognised categories—always an automatic DoC

  • Manufacturer/consumer, Donoghue v Stevenson

  • Road users, Nettleship v Weston, Fitzgerald v Patel.

  • Doctor/patient, Cassidy v Ministry of Health

  • Employer/employee, Wilson v English

  • Employees to each other, ICI v Shatwell

  • Referee/competitor: Vowles v Evans

  • Participants in sporting events: Condon v Basi


  • Police, no duty

    • Alexandrou v Oxford: no DoC for police to respond to an emergency call. Re local police ignored message from burglar alarm.

      • NO duty on proximity & public policy grounds.

  • Fire Brigade, no duty

    • Capital & Counties v Hampshire County Council

      • Fire Brigade does not owe a DoC to attend scene of fire-

      • But, if they do attend, DoC not to make situation worse through a positive act

      • [[had ordered sprinkler system to be turned off operational decision, no public policy immunity]].

    • Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-Day Saints: fire service failed to ensure an adequate supply of water available; no DoC.

    • Policy concern-insurance: individual should insure himself against fire.

  • Coastguard, no duty

    • OLL v SoS Transport, no DoC, unless caused greater injury than would have occurred if not involved.

  • Ambulance, yes duty

    • Kent v Griffiths: DoC to respond, and respond in reasonable time.

      • Acceptance of 999 call establishes proximity.

      • Rationale: ambulance part of NHS, not a rescue service same policy arguments for police & fire don’t apply.

    • But, eg, DoC might be excluded if ambulance had properly exercised discretion to attend a more pressing emergency first; or choice about allocation of resources.

    • Again, operational/policy distinction.

PROBLEM CATEGORIES, apply always Caparo

(1) Lawyers

  • Arthur Hall v Simons: ended advocacy immunity. civil and criminal.

  • Barristers:

    • Criminal cases, Hunter v Chief Constable West Midlands Police: appropriate challenge to conviction = appeal. If accused still convicted after appeal, negligence action against advocate will generally fail.

    • But, if conviction set aside on appeal could be a negligence claim against advocate.

    • Civil cases: can bring action for negligence; high burden of proof, need to show better standard of work would produce different outcome.

  • Jones v Kaney: no immunity for paid expert witnesses in court.

(2) Police—always apply Caparo

  • Rigby v Chief Constable of Northamptonshire: operational/policy divide

    • Police threw canister into building; caused fire an operational mistake, imposed liability.

  • If policy failing, probably no DOC (see Hill).

  • No DoC to respond to emergency: Alexandrou v Oxford

  • Duty to informants:

    • Swinney v Chief Constable of Northumbria: informant anonymity, her file was stolen; received threates/psychiatric injury. DoC. Policy: encourage informants.

    • An Informer v A Chief Constable: no DoC of police re economic loss, but would owe DoC re informer’s physical safety.

      • Proximity: yes, between police & informants.

      • Policy: want to encourage informants to come forward, if police not careful then discourages informants coming forward. Need to protect informants in public interest > protecting police from lawsuits.

  • DoC to safety of those in police custody:

    • Reeves v Met Police Commissioner: DoC found, re mentally ill prisoner who committed suicide in police custody.

      • Proximity: Police had high degree of control over victim.

  • DoC between police colleagues:

    • Costello v Chief Constable of Northumbria: C attacked in cell; colleague didn’t help. DoC existed.

      • Policy: maintain high standards.

      • [[note: employees owed DoC to each other, ICI v Shatwell]].

    • Waters v Commissioner of Police Metropolis: C raped and bullied by colleagues. Police authorities failed to deal with her complaint properly?

      • Found DoC, scales fell for claimant (actually an employers’ liability claim).

      • The protection given to police against owing a DoC didn’t apply here—she was not suing as a member of the public.

  • NO DoC, re apprehending criminals/preventing crimes

    • Hill v Chief Constable of West Yorkshire, no proximity, not fair/just/R

      • Mother of victim of Yorkshire Ripper; police had questioned Peter Sutcliffe, released him, he murdered again.

      • No general DoC owed to individual members of public to identify and apprehend an unknown criminal.

      • (1) Foreseeable? Yes, foreseeability.

      • (2) But Insufficient proximity between the woman, as potential victim of crime, and police.

        • (a) Between D and the 3rd party: Distinguished from Dorset YachtSutcliffe was not under police custody (cf Dorset Yacht), so not in police control.

        • (b) Between D and C: wide pool of potential victims: Couldn’t predict who he would kill, not identifiable victim, CF Dorset Yacht, particular risk to the yacht owners.

      • (3) ‘fair, just, reasonable’: policy...

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