The Development of the General Concept of the Duty of Care Essay

The Development of the General Concept of the Duty of Care Essay

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The Development of the General Concept of the Duty of Care 'It has been said many times that the [duty of care in the] law of
negligence develops incrementally so that the fact that there is no
reported case succeeding against the police similar to the present one
is not necessarily a sufficient reason for striking out.'

Lord Slynn of Hadley, Waters v Commissioner of Police [2000] 1 WLR
1607 at 1613.

Negligent conduct had previously only been recognised through
carefully defined circumstances. Damages tended to be only awarded in
cases where 'special circumstances gave rise to a duty of care.' Some
of these could be doctor-patient relationships, occupier-visitor
relationships or where 'fire damage resulted from negligence.' If a
case fell outside a recognised relationship there was no test for
determining whether liability existed or not.

This classification was used up until the case of Donoghue v Stevenson
(1932) AC 562, this was a vital case for English law and the concept
of duty of care because it developed a general principle for a duty of
care.

In Lord Aitkin's principle speech he devised the principle known as
the 'neighbour principle.'

"You must take reasonable care to avoid acts or omissions which you
can reasonably foresee would be likely to injure your neighbour? Who,
then, in law is my neighbour? The answer seems to be - persons who are
so closely and directly affected by my act that I ought reasonably to
have them in contemplation as being so affected when I am directing my
mind to the acts or omissions which are called in question....


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[1] Textbook on Torts, 7th edition, M.A. Jones, Blackstone Press,
2000, pg. 32

[2] Obligations: The Law of Tort 3rd edition, D.G. Cracknell, Old
Bailey Press, 2001, pg. 45

[3] Sourcebook on Torts, G. Stevenson, Cavendish Publishing, 1996,
pg.27

[4] Anns v Merton London Borough Council (1978) AC 728

[5] 'Obligations: The Law of Tort', 3rd edition, Cracknell D.G., Old
Bailey Pres, 2001 pg.48

[6] Anns v Merton London Borough Council (1978) AC 728

[7] 'Obligations: The Law of Tort', 3rd edition, Cracknell D.G., Old
Bailey Pres, 2001 pg.48

[8] Anns v Merton London Borough Council (1978) AC 728

[9] Hill v Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police (1989) AC 53 at 62

[10] Waters v Commissioner of Police 1 WLR 1607 at 1611

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