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Chapter

Cover Tort Law Directions

2. Negligence: duty of care  

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. Negligence is a tort in its own right and involves an unintentional wrong as opposed to trespass which involves an intentional wrong. It has three main elements: duty of care (whether the defendant owes the claimant a duty of care), breach (whether the defendant has breached that duty), and damage (whether that breach has caused damage of a legally recognized kind to the claimant). Duty of care is determined by proximity, foreseeability, and policy and is most likely to be established in cases of positive acts which cause physical injury or property damage. This chapter provides an overview of the history of negligence and discusses the function of duty of care in negligence. It also considers the way duty of care has been defined and developed and applies the principles of duty of care in the areas of omissions and liability of public bodies.

Chapter

Cover Business Law

12. Non-Physical Damage and Liability for Economic Loss  

This chapter continues on from the previous chapter in discussing liability in negligence for physical damage and considers the potential liability that businesses and individuals may face when they provide advice in the nature of their business, when they cause economic losses not associated with physical damage, and where the claimant suffers a psychiatric injury or nervous shock due to the acts of the tortfeasor. Recently, there has been an increase in instances of imposing liability on employers for the stress and associated health problems suffered by their employees. In the absence of physical damage, restrictions are placed on the imposition of liability for pure economic loss, although such loss has been widened to include damages for negligent misstatements. Of crucial importance is that businesses are aware of the implications of providing information in the course of their professional activities that may cause an investor or client loss through negligence.

Chapter

Cover Tort Law Directions

5. Negligence: duty of care problem areas  

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. The tort of negligence originated as a remedy for property damage and physical injury. However, recovery of compensation for psychiatric injury and pure economic loss, in cases where they were not caused by physical injury or property damage, has proved difficult. Duty of care for psychiatric injury is contingent upon whether the claimant is a primary or secondary victim. This chapter discusses the policy reasons for limiting duty of care for psychiatric injury, the mechanisms by which the law limits duty of care for psychiatric injury, the meaning of ‘pure economic loss’, and the development of the Hedley Byrne & Co Ltd v Heller & Partners Ltd (1964) principle of liability for negligent statements. The chapter also examines the ‘thin skull’ rule, which applies to psychiatric injury in the same way as to physical injury.