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Cover Administrative Law

15. Liability of Public Authorities  

Mark Elliott and Jason Varuhas

This chapter examines the nature and operation of the liability of public authorities, with particular emphasis on the tensions between the equality principle, a concern that authorities ought to be specially protected, and a concern that authorities ought to be subject to wider and more onerous obligations. The chapter first considers the relationship of public authority liability with judicial review and goes on to discuss the law of torts, especially the tort of negligence and what circumstances courts ought to impose negligence liability on public authorities for harm caused through exercises of statutory discretion. It then explores negligence liability in relation to omissions, human rights, and misfeasance in public office. It also reviews damages under the Human Rights Act 1998, contracts, restitution, and state liability in European Union law.