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Loss of Chance Is loss of chance recognised at all in negligence law?
Economic Loss Cases o Chaplin v Hicks : D published a letter in a newspaper advertising for models. Ladies were invited to send in applications containing their pictures. D would then print the pictures of ten ladies in each district, whom readers would vote on, leaving a total of 50 whom D would then pick 12 models from. C was in the final 50, but D negligently failed to inform her of the interview in time, thus meaning C was not at the interview where the 12 were selected.
? Fletcher Moulton LJ
Expulsion from a limited class of competitors is an injury and may be a very substantial one o Therefore the damages given in respect of it should be equivalent to the loss.
? Vaughan Williams LJ
There were fifty selected competitors, of whom C was one, and twelve prizes, so that the average chance of each competitor was about one in four. o I do not agree with the contention that, if certainty is impossible of attainment, the damages are unassessable. o Allied Maple Group v Simmonds and Simmonds: C instructed D to act for them in a takeover of assets of a vendor. C failed to negotiate a warranty on accrued assets, meaning a year after completion, C became aware of substantial contingent claims which they would have to pay. They sued D, the judge finding there was a real and not a mere speculative chance that C would have successfully renegotiated with the vendor to obtain proper protection and therefore D were in breach of duty.
? Smith LJ
Normally causation depends on whether the negligence consists of some positive act or misfeasance, or an omission or non-feasance. o In the former case, the question of causation is one of historical fact.
? The court has to determine on the balance of probability whether D's act, e.g. the careless driving, caused C's loss consisting of his broken leg. o In the latter case, for example to provide proper equipment, given proper instructions or advice,
? causation depends, not upon a question of historical fact, but on the answer to the hypothetical question,
e.g. what would C have done if the equipment had been provided or the instruction or advice given?
But In many cases C's loss depends on the hypothetical action of a third party.
o In such a case, C does not have to prove on balance of probability that the third party would have acted so as to confer the benefit or avoid the risk to C,
? C can succeed provided he shows that he had a substantial chance rather than a speculative one,
the evaluation of the substantial chance being a question of quantification of damages. o Per Spring, he does not have to prove that, but for the negligent reference, Scottish Amicable would have employed him BUT loss of chance is not recognised in medical negligence cases
It was rejected in Hotson on the facts... o Hotson v East Berkshire AHA : C fell from a tree, injuring his leg. On going to hospital, D negligently failed to diagnose him. C developed a condition which required his leg to be amputated. This was caused by one of two things, but it was unknown precisely which. There was a 75% chance that the fall had ruptured enough blood vessels so the condition would develop regardless of treatment, but a 25% chance that the condition had been caused by pressure being put on the leg after the misdiagnosis, which if spotted could have been cured through prompt treatment.
? Lord Bridge:
In some cases, perhaps particularly medical negligence cases, causation may be so shrouded in mystery that the court can only measure statistical chances. o On the evidence there was a clear conflict as to what had caused the avascular necrosis.
? But the judge's findings of fact are unmistakably to the effect that on a balance of probabilities
the injury caused by C's fall left insufficient blood vessels intact to save the leg.
This was a conflict, like any other about some relevant past event, which the judge could not avoid resolving on a balance of probabilities. o Unless C proved on a balance of probabilities that the delayed treatment was at least a material contributory cause of the avascular necrosis
? he failed on the issue of causation and no question of quantification could arise.
? Lord Mackay
What was C's condition on being first presented at the hospital? Did he have intact sufficient blood vessels to keep the affected epiphysis alive?
o It is not, in my opinion, correct to say that on arrival at the hospital he had a 25% chance of recovery.
? If insufficient blood vessels were left intact by the fall he had no prospect of avoiding complete avascular necrosis
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