A more recent version of these Remoteness Of Damage notes – written by Oxford students – is available here.
The following is a more accessble plain text extract of the PDF sample above, taken from our Tort Law Notes. Due to the challenges of extracting text from PDFs, it will have odd formatting:
Remoteness of Damage Old Law
Re Polemis o Two interpretations you can take from the decision
? First interpretation
That as long as some damage of the relevant kind was reasonably foreseeable o D liable for all damage of that kind. o Giliker: thus Lords only drew distinction between property damage and other kinds of damage (i.e. economic loss, personal injury)
? Second interpretation (supported by Authority):
As long as some damage foreseeable from D's action o D would be liable for all damage that resulted from that
E.g. dropping plank of wood = scratched paint =
reasonable foreseeable o So if plank was dropped and set ship on fire owing to unknown petrol vapour leak
? Then D liable for all direct results of conduct. Modern Law
The Wagon Mound (1) - D negligently spilt oil into the water from his ship, which spread out among the harbour. After leaving with no attempt to do anything, some welders on the quay were welding. A spark ignited some cotton waste that was floating in the water, which in turn ignited the oil and caused considerable damage to the equipment and wharf. o Viscount Simonds
? If it is asked why a man should be responsible for the natural or necessary or probable consequences of his act (or any other similar description of them)
the answer is that it is not because they are natural or necessary or probable,
but because, since they have this quality, it is judged by the standard of the reasonable man that he ought to have foreseen them o the test for the liability for fire is foreseeability of injury by fire Principles set out
Need only be foreseeability of the "kind of damage" that eventuates - no need to foresee the exact way the harm comes about o Hughes v Lord Advocate :C, 8yo boy, takes paraffin lamp from unattended open manhole cover and goes down into the area to explore. Owing to complicated scientific reasons, this triggers an explosion and C is badly burnt.
? Lord Morris: Damage by burning was the "kind" of damage in question
And no distinction between burning caused by flame of lamp and burning caused by unforeseeable explosion. o Would be overly pedantic o And unjust to say can only have damages if spilled lamp and burnt child
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