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Tort Law Directions

Tort Law Directions (8th edn)

Carol Brennan
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date: 29 May 2024

p. 824. Negligence: causationlocked

p. 824. Negligence: causationlocked

  • Carol BrennanCarol BrennanTeaching Fellow on the Undergraduate Laws Programme, University of London


Without assuming prior legal knowledge, books in the Directions series introduce and guide readers through key points of law and legal debate. Questions, diagrams, and exercises help readers to engage fully with each subject and check their understanding as they progress. In addition to duty of care and breach of that duty, the third essential element to bring a successful action in negligence is causation of damage. In other words, the claimant must prove on the balance of probabilities that the breach caused his damage. The defendant cannot be made liable for the harm suffered by the claimant if he is not responsible, or partly responsible, for such harm—even if he has been negligent. The question of causation can be divided into two issues: causation in fact and causation in law (also known as remoteness). The primary means of establishing factual causation is the ‘but for’ test. Reasonable foreseeability of damage of the relevant type (Wagon Mound) is required to establish that the claimant’s injury is not too remote. The chain of causation may be broken by unreasonable or unforeseeable acts or events (novus actus interveniens).

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