The following Dispute Resolution practice note produced in partnership with Professor Richard A Buckley M.A, D.Phil, DCL, Oxford of University of Reading provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:
This Practice Note outlines the key elements for establishing a claim in negligence. For specific guidance on negligence in the context of parent/company liability, banks and in professional negligence cases, see:
Practice Note: Tortious liability—companies
Practice Note: Negligence—banks and the duty of care
Professional negligence claims—overview
For liability in negligence to be founded, four key ingredients must be present:
duty of care
breach of that duty
damage (which is caused by the breach)
foreseeability of such damage
The various elements of each of the tests overlap and their separation can be artificial upon close analysis in certain circumstances. However, considering each of the items in turn is an essential guide to testing whether an actionable claim in negligence has arisen.
For negligence to be established, the defendant must owe the claimant a duty to take reasonable care not to inflict damage on him or her. The crux of the tort is the careless infliction of harm and so intentionally inflicted harm will never give rise to a claim in negligence.
The notion that there might be a general duty to take care of others was first considered in Donoghue v Stevenson. In that case, a woman was given a bottle of ginger beer by a friend who
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