The Tort of Negligence

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There are three elements that must be present for an act or omission to be negligent; (1) The defendant owed a duty of care towards the plaintiff; (2) The defendant breached the duty of care by an act or omission; (3) The plaintiff must suffer damage as a result - be it physical, emotional or financial. The court might decide that Freddy (the plaintiff) was owed a duty of care by Elvis (the defendant) if they find that what happened to Freddy was in the realm of reasonable forseeability - any harm that could be caused to a 'neighbour' by Elvis' actions that he could reasonably have expected to happen. The 'neighbour principle' was established in the case of Donoghue v. Stevenson (1932). Donoghue was bought a ginger beer by her friend from an ice-cream parlour. She discovered a partially decomposed snail inside the opaque bottle. She claimed that she suffered from gastro-enteritis and nervous shock as a result, and sued the manufacturer. She could not sue for breach of contract (the contract being that the manufacturer would provide the consumer with products that would not harm her) because her friend had purchased it for her, so she sued for negligence. Lord Atkinson, who was the judge at the trial, said the case hinged on the question, do the manufacturers owe the consumer, as well as the buyer (the parlour), a duty of care? Is the plaintiff the defendant's 'neighbour', to whom the plaintiff owed a duty of care? Lord Atkinson said that a neighbour is anyone that you might closely and directly affect by your actions. So it was established that the manufacturer did owe a duty of care to Mrs. Donoghue, in that it was up to them to... ... middle of paper ... ...nted to sack an employee but had no good reason, then they could stage an 'accident' which pointed to the negligence of the employee, giving them an excuse to fire them and avoid an unfair dismissal action. The action would obviously be dropped once the offending employee was removed. Secondly, although the employee is supposedly an extension of the employer, can the employer really be held responsible for the actions of another person with free will? What if the employee started well in his/her duties, but quickly became lax in performing their job, and then committing a tort. Admittedly, they should really have been supervised better, but if the transformation was rapid (perhaps due to a death in the employee's family) then there really wasn't much that the employer could have done to make sure that it didn't happen.

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