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

The following Dispute Resolution practice 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
  • ‘But for’—hypothetical actions of the claimant
  • ‘But for’—actions of the defendant
  • Third party actions and the ‘but for’ test
  • Remoteness—SAAMCO—advice and information cases
  • Advice or information? (BPE v Hughes-Holland clarifying SAAMCO)
  • Decisions applying BPE v Hughes-Holland
  • Negligent surveyor valuation cases
  • More...

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, as subsequently clarified in BPE Solicitors v Hughes-Holland, and the issue of remoteness, distinguishing between professional negligence claims in contract and remoteness where the claim is in tort.

For guidance on causation and remoteness in contract and tort generally, 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

There are three key elements to a professional negligence claim:

  1. first, identify the existence of a duty owed by the professional to the claimant, see Practice Note: Bringing a professional negligence claim based on the duty in contract, tort and equity

  2. second, identify the standard of care expected of such professional and how the professional has failed to discharge this duty (the breach of duty) to the claimant causing them damage, see Practice Note: Standard of care in professional negligence claims

  3. third, establish that the resulting damage suffered by the claimant was both:

    1. caused by the defendant’s breach (causation), and

    2. reasonably foreseeable (remoteness)

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

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