claimant (C) must show on the balance of probabilities: defendant (D) owed a duty of care, breached that duty by failing to meet standard of care required & as a result C suffered loss or damage which is not too remote
Breach of duty two-stage test: what standard of care D should have exercised (question of law) & whether D's conduct fell below the required standard (question of fact)
general rule: standard of care required is objective, that of a reasonable man
Baron Alderson: .. Negligence is the omission to do something, which a reasonable man, guided upon those considerations, which ordinarily regulate the conduct of human affairs, would do, or doing something, which a prudent and reasonable man would not do. The standard demanded is thus not of perfection but of reasonableness. It is an objective standard taking no account of the defendant's incompetence - he may do the best he can and still be found negligent...
reasonable person described by judges in many memorable ways
Hall v Brooklands Auto-Racing Club  1 KB 205
Lord MacMillan: .. standard of foresight of the reasonable man is, in one sense, an impersonal test. It eliminates the personal equation and is independent of the idiosyncrasies of the particular person whose conduct is in question...
reasonable person would consider risk when deciding to act in a certain way
Likelihood of injury or damage
likelihood of injury or damage should be considered, generally, the less likely the lower the standard of care required
P, a blind man, was injured when he tripped over a hammer on a pavement, left by workmen employed by D
hammer was left to warn people that a hole had been dug, which was common practice at the time
did D take all necessary precautions?
House of Lords: D not taken all practical precautions, for example a fence around the hole would have significantly reduced the risk of injury at a low cost
if D's activity has no social utility or is unlawful, a very high degree of care required to justify even a small risk
the greater social utility of D's conduct, the less likely D will be held to be negligent
Daborn v Bath Tramways Motor Co. Ltd  2 All ER 333
during World War II, P was injured in a collision with D's ambulance
ambulance was a left-hand drive vehicle & not fitted with signals, accident happened when D turned after attempting to signal with her hand
did D's purpose lower the standard of care required?
Court of Appeal: converting the vehicles would have been prohibitively difficult & expensive, D was acting public interest (providing ambulance service during wartime), value to society meant there was lower standard of care required
Asquith LJ: .. if all the trains in this country were restricted to a speed of five miles an hour, there would be fewer accidents, but our national life would be intolerably slowed down. The purpose to be served if sufficiently important, justifies the assumption of abnormal risk...
Watt v Hertfordshire County Council  1 WLR 835
P, a fire fighter, was injured by heavy equipment needed to assist at a serious road accident, when it slipped off a lorry
D ordered the use of lorry to carry the equipment as the usual vehicle was assigned was engaged in other work
did D breach duty of care by allowing an ordinary lorry to carry the equipment?
D reached standard of care required: benefit of saving the woman trapped at accident was greater than the risk of injuring the fire fighters by using unsuitable lorry for carrying equipment
Lord Denning: .. in measuring due care one must balance the risk against the measures necessary to eliminate the risk... the saving of life or limb justifies taking considerable risk ...
however, the nature of the work of the emergency services does not make them immune from Negligence claims
P's leg broken in a tackle by D during local league football match
did D breach necessary standard of care?
D's tackle was reckless & therefore breached standard of care expected of a local league player
Sir John Donaldson MR: .. The standard is objective, but objective in a different set of circumstances. Thus there will of course be a higher degree of care required of a player in a First Division football match than of a player in a Fourth Division football match...
Wilks v Cheltenham Cycle Club  1 WLR 668
P injured when a spectator at motorbike race, when D's bike came off the track
did D breach necessary standard of care?
standard of care required should take account of D's desire to win
Edmund Davies LJ: .. although in the very nature of things the competitor is all out to win and that is exactly what the spectators expect of him, it is in my judgment still incumbent upon him to exercise such degree of care as may reasonably be expected in all the circumstances.. I would hold him liable only for damages caused by errors of judgment or lapse of skill going beyond such as, in the stress of circumstances, may reasonably be regarded as excusable...
general rule: compliance with accepted practice within trade or profession provides D with good argument he met the required standard of care, but not necessarily mean D's conduct is not negligent
P suffered injury after receiving treatment at D's hospital
inconclusive debate between medical experts about whether the treatment had been administered in the safest way
what standard of care is required?
junior doctor must show the same degree of skill as a reasonably compeeant doctor
Bolam test: means a doctor is not in breach of his duty if he acted in accordance with a practice accepted as proper by a responsible body of medical opinion
McNair J: ..A man need not possess the highest expert skill; it is well established law that it is sufficient if he exercises the ordinary skill of an ordinary competent man exercising that particular art...
P, mother of victim (V) who suffered serious brain damage following respiratory failure & died at D's hospital
doctor did not attend (due to a technology failure) until after V died, P argued doctor should have attended & carried out a specific procedure to save V's life
doctor testified she would not have carried out the procedure even if she had attended & her evidence was backed by a number of medical professionals
did D meet standard of care?
trial judge applied Bolam test & found no breach of duty
House of Lords established a court may reject the accepted practice of a profession, if it can be shown that the practice is not logically supportable
Lord Browne-Wilkinson: .. the court is not bound to hold that a defendant doctor escapes liability for negligent treatment or diagnosis just because he leads evidence from a number of medical experts who are genuinely of the opinion that the defendant's treatment or diagnosis accorded with sound medical practice...
Under skilled defendant
court will determine standard of care required for relevant activity in each case
D fitted door handle which broke & caused accident
did D meet standard of care?
D executed work to appropriate standard: standard of reasonably competent amateur carpenter (lower than standard expected of professional carpenter working for reward), sort of job a reasonable householder might do for himself
however, if D attempts job which exceeds his capability & usually requires professional work, may be negligent for D to have even undertaken
generally, inexperience does not lower required standard of care
15 year old children were play fighting with plastic rulers, one snapped causing the injury
did child D meet required standard of care?
D not liable: insuffcinet evidence accident was foreseeable
established relevant factor is age in determining standard of care required for child Ds
Hutchison LJ: .. the question for the judge is not whether the actions of the defendant were such as an ordinarily prudent and reasonable adult in the defendant's situation would have realised gave rise to a risk of injury, it is whether an ordinary, prudent and reasonable 15-year old schoolgirl in the defendant's situation would have realised as much...
very young children rarely liable but older children may be held to standard of care required of reasonable adult
Gorely v Codd  1 WLR 19
P injured by air gun pellet accidently fired by D, a 16 year old boy, when larking about
did D meet required standard of care?
D liable: expected to meet standard of care required for reasonable adult
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