Breach of statutory duty
Produced in partnership with Professor Richard A Buckley
Breach of statutory duty

The following Dispute Resolution practice note produced in partnership with Professor Richard A Buckley provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Breach of statutory duty
  • Breach of statutory duty—nature of liability
  • Breach of statutory duty—tests for liability
  • Was the provision passed for the benefit of a particular class?
  • Did the statute itself provide for the imposition of a penalty in the event of breach?
  • What if the statute makes no provision for a remedy?
  • How specific was the duty imposed by the provision?
  • Was the harm that occurred within the risk that the statute sought to prevent?
  • Breach of statutory duty—standard of liability
  • Breach of statutory duty—defences
  • More...

Breach of statutory duty

This Practice Note considers claims for damages for breach of statutory duty. For guidance on claims for damages for a negligent breach of duty of care outside a statutory duty, see Practice Notes:

  1. Negligence—when does a duty of care arise?

  2. Negligence—when is the duty of care breached?

Breach of statutory duty—nature of liability

A claimant who suffers loss or injury in circumstances in which the defendant has been in breach of a statutory provision may sometimes be able to claim damages in tort, even if the situation does not fall within the scope of an existing tort such as negligence.

If the statute expressly provides for a claim in damages the position will normally be straightforward.

Whether a claim will be available if there is no such provision is said to depend upon the intention of Parliament, which is to be ascertained by construing the statute in question. Since this intention will not be explicit, the courts have adopted a series of tests or presumptions to be applied to the statute and the facts of the incident to determine whether liability should be imposed.

Although well-established in the sphere of industrial injury cases, where it often overlaps with negligence, the imposition of liability for breach of statutory duty in other contexts is exceptional.

Breach of statutory duty—tests for liability

The courts use the following tests as aids to

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