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Cover Street on Torts

4. Duty of care III: property damage and purely financial loss  

This chapter is concerned with duties of care that arise when the claimant suffers either property damage or purely financial loss (that is, loss not attendant on physical damage or on any other primary interest recognised in negligence). Again, we find that duties of care are quite expansive with respect to property damage when the claimant owns or possesses the property in question. By contrast, duties of care are restricted with respect to purely financial losses. The most frequently upheld duties in the latter category cover negligent misstatements and the negligent provision of professional services, the scope of which is dictated by application of the Hedley Byrne v Heller framework or some variant of it.