The Extent Of Liability Of Tort Law England Law Essay

July 13, 2017 Law

This essay will reason that English Tort jurisprudence imposes excessively much liability to a big extent and imposes excessively small liability to a little extent. It will demo why tribunals are enforcing excessively much liability in psychiatric and calumny instances, and excessively much liability in psychiatric and Pure Economic Loss ( PEL ) instances. It so weighs the magnitude of the jobs in the three countries.


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The ‘multiple-publication regulation ‘ have caused the tribunals to enforce excessively much liability in calumny. Defamation arises when C makes a statement that lowers D ‘s image in eyes of sensible work forces[ 1 ]. In calumny, the article presumed to be false unless D proves otherwise. This does non use in America, therefore English calumny jurisprudence is considered more claimant-friendly than America[ 2 ]. The multiple-publication regulation was established in Duke of Brunswick v Harmer ( 1849 )[ 3 ]. Seventeen old ages after its original publication, C ‘s retainer obtained a transcript of the allegedly calumniatory article from D. C sued on these publications. D contended that the action was time-barred as the restriction period for libel was six old ages. Held, each publication constituted a detached civil wrong and D was apt. This regulation was besides applied in Jameel v Times Newspaper ( 2005 )[ 4 ]It was besides applied in Loutchansky v Times Newspaper ( 2001 )[ 5 ]wherein the D alleged that the regulation contravened Art.10 of the European Convention of Human Rights by exposing newspapers which maintain archives to claims, thereby restricting freedom of look. Held, there was no dispute because: –

( 1 ) care of cyberspace archives is a comparatively little facet of freedom of look ; and

( 2 ) an fond regard of a warning would take the sting from the stuff.

First, the Duke of Brunswick[ 6 ]was decided ill. In Jameel, Lord Philip stated that the instance would hold been struck out for maltreatment of procedure in today ‘s context because C had republished the article to his agent in order to action D[ 7 ]. The ratio in Loutchansky is besides weak. Sing ( 1 ) , Dunlop countered that archives are of import beginnings for research and they are more accessible to the populace than library archives[ 8 ]. The demand in ( 2 ) may enforce excessively much load on newspapers because harmonizing to Flood v Times Newspaper ( 2009 )[ 9 ], a notice of “ capable to a legal ailment ” was deficient ; D must take the article or attach a suited making. It was besides held that articles that were antecedently protected by the defense mechanism of qualified privilege could lose their ‘status ‘ if they cease to be a current issue[ 10 ]. This places a load on D to invariably update its archives which can figure 1000s. Furthermore, the regulation has led to ‘forum shopping ‘ where aliens have brought calumny suits against publishing houses abroad based on a limited circulation here. This exposes the English legal system to mistreat because aliens have small repute to protect here[ 11 ].

These positions are contrasted with the importance of one ‘s repute. In Flood, Tugendhat J opined that with internet hunt engines a website publication could stay easy accessible, damaging a individual ‘s repute everlastingly[ 12 ]. ‘Forum shopping ‘ could be checked by the tribunals exerting discretion to strike out frivolous instances[ 13 ]. Furthermore, D ‘s limited publication in the UK will be reflected in the lowered amendss awarded to C[ 14 ]. Finally, contrary to the position that the regulation exposes the English system to mistreat, C must turn out that s/he had a repute to protect in England. In King V Lewis ( 2005 ) , it was held that in instances of cyberspace libel, the tribunal must see the most appropriate forum for the instance along with the parties ‘ connexion with this legal power[ 15 ]. While the aforesaid statements are persuasive, the multiple-publication regulation imposes excessively much liability because of its undetermined nature, particularly with the cyberspace. Posser described the regulation as appropriate for “ limited circulation ” but “ perchance black today ”[ 16 ]. When information is published in the cyberspace, the publishing house may confront judicial proceeding in all common jurisprudence legal powers. This leads to a ‘chilling ‘ consequence on publishing houses. Therefore, calumny jurisprudence imposes excessively much liability.


The primary/secondary victim differentiation and the opinion in Page[ 17 ]hold caused civil wrong jurisprudence to enforce deficient and excessively much liability severally. Psychiatric claimants must foremost turn out that they are enduring from a recognized status[ 18 ]. Harmonizing to Alcock v CC of South Yorkshire Police ( 1992 )[ 19 ], claimants for psychiatric harm will be classified into primary and secondary victims. Claimants who were in immediate danger of enduring hurt were classified primary victims. The remainder were classified secondary victims who must turn out: –

( 1 ) close ties of love and fondness with the primary victims ;

( 2 ) that psychiatric harm was foreseeable to a individual of sensible fortitude ;

( 3 ) propinquity of clip and infinite ; and

( 4 ) the event which caused nervous daze was perceived by his/her ain senses.

In Page V Smith ( 1996 )[ 20 ], it was held that primary victims had to turn out that hurt was foreseeable but need non specifically turn out that psychiatric harm was foreseeable. Harmonizing to White V CC of South Yorkshire Police ( 1999 )[ 21 ], forseeability of physical hurt is a sufficient and necessary standard to set up a responsibility of attention for primary victims. In Dulieu v White ( 1901 )[ 22 ], D negligently allowed his Equus caballuss to crash into C ‘s workplace, doing C psychiatric harm. The tribunal held D apt, saying obiter that daze must originate from sensible fright of hurt to oneself. However, the Court of Appeal in Hambrook V Stokes ( 1925 )[ 23 ]rejected Dulieu ‘s pronouncement, puting aside the determination to disregard C ‘s claim. C saw a runaway lorry traveling in the way of her kids. She saw no hit but heard of an accident affecting person resembling her girl. In Sion v Hampstead HA ( 1994 )[ 24 ], C watched his boy ‘s status deteriorate over 14 yearss owing to D ‘s carelessness. As a secondary victim his claim for psychiatric amendss was struck out as there was no sudden daze, neglecting standards ( 4 ) . However in Walters v North Glamorgan NHS Trust ( 2003 )[ 25 ], C witnessed her boy ‘s wellness impairment over 36 hours due to D ‘s carelessness. She was awarded amendss as a secondary victim ; the 36 hours was considered one uninterrupted event in standards ( 4 ) .

In Dulieu and Hambrook, the claimants were primary and secondary victims severally. In Hambrook, Atkin LJ rejected the logical thinking in Dulieu, explicating that it would ensue in a state of affairs where a female parent, shocked by fear for herself would retrieve, while a female parent shocked by fear for her kid, could non, which was unacceptable[ 26 ]. Mentioning to both instances, the Singapore Court of Appeal in Ngiam V Lim ( 2008 ) , concluded that the regulations sing primary and secondary victims would favor the former over the latter which, as inferred from Hambrook, was indefensible. Primary and secondary victims should be treated every bit[ 27 ]. There is no justification for necessitating C in Hambrook to turn out standards ( 1 ) – ( 4 ) while necessitating that of Dulieu to simply turn out that hurt was foreseeable. In Walters and Sion, both Cs were secondary victims. In Walters, Ward LJ, after sing Sion, opined that the ‘event ‘ [ in ( 4 ) ] can be interpreted on a individual footing[ 28 ]. This arbitrary attack leads to uncertainness which may do possible claimants with legitimate claims to waive compensation.

The justification for Page ‘s regulation was to hold legal rule reflect medical apprehension.[ 29 ]Therefore, in Page it was held that with modern apprehension of psychopathology, there should be no differentiation between physical and psychiatric hurt[ 30 ]. This premiss is flawed because the tribunals should separate between legal and medical constructs owing to the floodgates concern. Unlike personal hurt, psychiatric harm is potentially open-ended. A minor accident can go forth person unhurt while cause psychiatric hurt to another.[ 31 ]Furthermore, Page ‘s regulation undermines The Wagon Mound ( No.1 ) ( 1961 ) . In that instance, D negligently started a fire, so the liability in inquiry is liability for harm by fire[ 32 ]. Hence in Page, if C wishes to set up liability for psychiatric amendss, C should demo that psychiatric amendss was foreseeable ; turn outing foreseeability of physical hurt is deficient.


A general regulation excepting compensation for PEL non covered by the Hedley Byrne[ 33 ]rule is unduly restrictive. In Spartan Steel V Martin ( 1973 ) , PEL was defined as economic losingss non stemming from physical harm ; Denning LJ barred recovery of PEL for policy concerns[ 34 ]. This instance was applied in Murphy V Brentwood DC ( 1991 ) . The Claimant ( C ) owned a belongings which was inspected and approved by the Defendant ( D ) . C subsequently discovered defects on the belongings, sold it at a loss and sued D for carelessness during review. Held, D was non apt in carelessness because the amendss suffered were PEL[ 35 ]. Harmonizing to Clerk & A ; Lindsell on Torts, three factors distinguish PEL from physical harm: –

( 1 ) physical harm is straightforward whereas PEL could do undetermined liability ;

( 2 ) contracts are better suited to find the grade of protection from hazards ;

( 3 ) physical harm causes loss to societal wealth whereas PEL simply consequences in mere transportation of wealth[ 36 ].

These characteristics explain the restrictive attack towards PEL[ 37 ]. The lone exclusions are state of affairss covered by Hedley Byrne v Heller ( 1964 ) where it was held a responsibility of attention arises when D uses his particular accomplishment to help C. C ‘s PEL caused by D ‘s negligent misstatement would be recoverable[ 38 ]. In Bryan V Maloney ( 1995, Australia )[ 39 ]it was held that in instances where a belongings proprietor ( C ) sustained PEL due to the builder ( D ) ‘s carelessness, PEL was recoverable. Mason CJ stated that the acknowledgment of propinquity between C and D sing [ PEL ] would non do undetermined liability ; besides, there was no policy excepting rules of carelessness because a contract existed[ 40 ]. Finally, Caparo v Dickman ( 1990 )[ 41 ]laid down the three-part trial to find liability: –

Reasonable foreseeability of harm/damage ;

Proximate relationship between C & A ; D ;

Fair, merely and sensible to enforce liability.

Bryan does non turn to the 3rd factor of PEL. Feldthusen cites an illustration where a blackout forces Store A to shut, doing clients to see shop B. The PEL A sustains is offset by B ‘s addition. Therefore, enforcing liability for PEL would over-deter utile societal activity[ 42 ]. Furthermore, the floodgates concern is really existent outside Bryan ‘s context. Alexander cites another illustration where a power company ‘s proficient failure causes a city-wide black out. If the metropolis were allowed recovery for PEL, the compensation would be huge. It would besides be hard for insurance companies to cipher premiums required in such fortunes[ 43 ]. Leting recovery in the aforesaid illustration besides contradicts standards ( a ) of the Caparo trial because it is perceived to do undetermined liability.

These statements do non warrant an exclusionary regulation against PEL because it is the fortunes of harm instead than its nature that should be considered when make up one’s minding PEL instances[ 44 ]. In Murphy, Lord Oliver stated that an action will non needfully neglect if C suffers merely PEL ; a long line of authorization had decided against PEL due to the floodgates concern[ 45 ]. The perceptual experience of PEL ‘s indeterminate liability which raises the floodgates concern every bit good as contradicts standards ( a ) of the Capro trial has been dispelled in state of affairss covered in Bryan ‘s context. Therefore, there is no justification for an exclusionary regulation for PEL. When make up one’s minding whether to let recovery for PEL, the “ incremental attack ” adopted in Sutherland Shire Council v Heyman ( 1985 ) should be considered ; therein Brennan J held that the jurisprudence should develop fresh classs of carelessness by analogy with established classs[ 46 ]. This attack was approved by Lord Bridge after detecting that the jurisprudence had moved towards enforcing responsibilities of attention based on classification of distinguishable state of affairss[ 47 ].


Sing PEL, claimants are protected by contracts which are widely used today. Leting retrieving for PEL would be meant for limited state of affairss non covered in contract. For secondary victims in psychiatric instances, they could have compensation under insurance and/or free intervention under the NHS. Thus, civil wrong jurisprudence imposes deficient liability to a little extent. Sing Page ‘s regulation in psychiatric instances, the demand for a recognized psychiatric unwellness[ 48 ]partially solves the floodgates concerns, excluding frivolous claims for mere heartache. However, multiple-publication regulation causes a chilling consequence due to indeterminate liability. Hence, civil wrong jurisprudence imposes excessively much liability to a big extent. ( 2504 words )



A M Dugdale, MA Jones ( Ed ) Clerk & A ; Lindsell on Torts, 19Ed, 2006 Sweet & A ; Maxwell Ltd

JW Neyers, E Chamberlain, S Pitel, ( Ed ) Emerging Issues in the Law of Tort, Hart Pub, 2007

Case jurisprudence

Hedley Bryne & A ; Co v Heller & A ; Partners [ 1964 ] AC 465 ( HL )

Spartan Steel and Alloys v Martin & A ; Co ( Contractors ) Ltd [ 1973 ] QB 27

Murphy V Brentwood DC [ 1991 ] 1 AC 398

Perre V Apand Pty Ltd ( 1999 ) ALR 606 at 623

Bryan V Maloney ( 1995 ) 182 CLR 609

Council of the Shire of Sutherland v Heyman ( 1985 ) 60 ALR 1

Caparo Industries Plc V Dickman [ 1989 ] QB 653

Page V Smith [ 1996 ] AC 155

Alcock V CC of South Yorkshire Police [ 1992 ] 1 AC 310

Dulieu v White & A ; Sons [ 1901 ] 2 KB 669

Hambrook V Stokes Brothers [ 1925 ] 1 KB 141

Sion V Hampstead HA [ 1994 ] 5 Med LR 170

Bruno walters v North Glamorgan NHS Trust [ 2003 ] PIQR P16

The Wagon Mound No. 1 [ 1961 ] AC 388 ( HL )

Ngiam Kong Seng and another V Lim Chiew Hock [ 2008 ] SGCA 23

Duke of Brunswick v Harmer ( 1849 ) 14 QB 185

Loutchansky V Times Newspaper Ltd [ 2001 ] EWCA Civ 1805

Jameel and another V Dow Jones & A ; Co Inc [ 2005 ] QB 946

Berezovsky V Michael [ 2000 ] UKHL 25

Dow Jones & A ; Company Inc V Gutnick [ 2002 ] HCA 56 at [ 128 ]

Wong 5 Parkside Health NHS Trust [ 2001 ] EWCA Civ 1721

Spandeck Engineering Pte Ltd V Defence Science and Technology Agency [ 2007 ] SGCA 37

Smith V Leech Bain & A ; Co Ltd [ 1962 ] 2 QB 405

King V Lewis [ 2005 ] EMLR 4


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