Causation and remoteness in professional negligence claims
Causation and remoteness in professional negligence claims

The following Dispute Resolution guidance note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Causation and remoteness in professional negligence claims
  • General rules of causation and damages apply
  • The ‘but for’ test in professional negligence claims
  • Hypothetical actions of the claimant
  • Actions of the defendant
  • Where third party actions are relevant
  • A refining of the ‘but for’ test in valuation cases?
  • The SAAMCO principle—advice and information cases
  • Advice or information? (clarifying SAAMCO—BPE v Hughes-Holland)
  • Remoteness test in professional negligence claims
  • more

As considered in Practice Note: Bringing a professional negligence claim based on the duty in contract, tort and equity, a professional negligence claim may be founded in contract, tort or in equity.

Having established the existence of a duty and standard of care which the prospective defendant has breached (see Practice Note: Standard of care in professional negligence claims), it remains necessary to establish that the resulting damage was both caused by such breach (causation) and was reasonably foreseeable (remoteness).

This Practice Note considers causation and remoteness in professional negligence claims, encompassing the ‘but for’ test (considered in Kuwait Airways v Iraqi Airways), the hypothetical actions of the claimant, defendant and any third parties (Allied Maples v Simmons & Simmons), the SAAMCO principle and the issue of remoteness, distinguishing between professional negligence claims founded in contract and remoteness where the professional negligence claim is founded in tort.

For guidance on causation and remoteness in contract and tort, see Practice Notes:

  1. Causation and remoteness in contractual breach claims

  2. Tort claims—causation in law

  3. Tort claims—causation as a matter of fact

General rules of causation and damages apply

In principle, professional negligence claims are subject to the usual general rules of causation and damages.

In Kuwait Airways v Iraqi Airways, Lord Nicholls explained the basic principles:

‘How, then, does one identify a plaintiff's “true loss” in cases of