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Law of Tort The law of tort is concerned with a person’s responsibility to others. It applies to both individuals and companies.

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Presentation on theme: "Law of Tort The law of tort is concerned with a person’s responsibility to others. It applies to both individuals and companies."— Presentation transcript:

1 Law of Tort The law of tort is concerned with a person’s responsibility to others. It applies to both individuals and companies.

2 LESSON OBJECTIVES the significance of both wrong & damages how damage is assessed for remoteness when an employer may be responsible for a tort committed by an employee the rule in Rylands v Fletcher the main defences to an action in tort the main remedies for torts and the damages that may be awarded

3 THE LAW OF TORT ‘ the principle is that the law give various rights to persons, eg. the right to occupy land without interference or invasion by trespassers’ (Source: BPP 2004) THEREFORE, THE LAW IMPOSES A DUTY TO RESPECT THE LEGAL RIGHTS OF OTHERS’

4 HOW IS TORT DIFFERENT FROM OTHER LEGAL WRONGS? A crime is prohibited by statute law and the state prosecutes the offender. Breach of contract – (also a civil wrong) is when an agreement is broken. In tort, no previous relationship need exist

5 Examples of TORTS TRESPASS - to land, person & goods (some are also crimes) OCCUPIERS’ LIABILITY PRIVATE NUISANCE PUBLIC NUISANCE (also a crime) DEFAMATION – libel & slander NEGLIGENCE – most important tort – next week

6 WRONG & DAMAGE Some torts require the claimant to prove to the Court that they have been wronged and that damage has been suffered. Eg negligence. Other torts require proof only that a legal wrong has been done (without suffering any damage) eg trespass or libel

7 LEGAL REMEDIES FOR TORTS DAMAGES – compensating the claimant for a financial loss (NOT for punishing the defendant of his wrong). The damages aim to put the injured party in the position they were if the tort had never been commited. **(COMPARE WITH CONTRACT DAMAGES – aim to put the injured party in the position as if the contract had been completed)** TORTIOUS DAMAGES TEND TO BE LARGER THAN CONTRACT DAMAGES

8 LEGAL REMEDIES FOR TORTS (CTD) INJUNCTION – the Court makes a order that requires the defendant to refrain from or to do a certain act.

9 EXAMPLE OF WHY IT CAN BE BETTER TO SUE IN TORT & NOT IN CONTRACT. A employs B to paint the exterior of his house for £2000. (THERE IS A CONTRACT FOR £2000) During the painting, B negligently puts a ladder through a window and causes £10,000 to a valuable painting. What should A do, and why? If A sues in contract – maximum damages is £2000 If A sues in tort – maximum damages is £10,000

10 REMOTENESS OF DAMAGES When a person commits a tort with the intention of causing loss or harm, no matter that the actual loss/harm is far removed, damages will be awarded.

11 SCOTT V SHEPHERD 1773 A threw a lighted firework into a crowded market. It landed on B’s stall, who threw it away. It then landed on C’s stall, who threw it away, whereupon the firework hit D in the face and blinded him. HELD? Who was liable to whom?

12 REASONABLE FORESIGHT In actions for (the tort of) negligence, if the claimant (person taking court action) does something that increases the injury to himself, this can mean that his claim could fail or damages are reduced. Also, if the loss is caused because of something that happened that is not reasonably foreseeable, the case may fail. If the claimant suffers serious physical damage, the defendant may be liable for the full amount of the injury done Reasonable foresight cases questions

13 VICARIOUS LIABILITY A person who is vicariously liable takes the blame for the fault of someone else. The Middle Ages Royal family used to have the ‘whipping boy’ for naughty Royal children. Vicarious liability is placed on employers for torts that their staff may commit whilst at work.

14 TORT NOTES Someone who commits a tort is called a tortfeasor Where someone else has vicarious liability, they have joint & several liability – this means that if the tortfeasor disappears, the person having vicarious liability will still be liable for the wrong.

15 EMPLOYER’S VICARIOUS LIABILITY If an employee, whilst performing his work, injures another person then both are liable. The employee will be personally liable The employer will be vicariously liable

16 CONDITIONS FOR EMPLOYER VICARIOUS LIABILITY The relationship between them must be employer and employee The employee committed the tort during the tort of his employment

17 EMPLOYMENT RELATIONSHIP It is usually clear when an employment relationship exists, but this is not always the case. The Courts apply certain tests to assess whether - an employer has CONTROL over THE WAY the employee does the job - the employee is INTEGRATED INTO THE ORGANISATION - The ECONOMIC REALITY eg payment of tax & national insurance for the employee See VICARIOUS LIABILITY Q’S

18 STRICT LIABILITY In many torts, the defendant (the person who did wrong) is liable because he acted intentionally or negligently. He can escape liability if he shows that he acted with reasonable care.

19 STRICT LIABILITY (CTD) However, there are some torts where the defendant is liable even though he took reasonable care. (strict liability) The courts will impose strict liability when -something is brought onto the land -it is a non natural use of the land -the thing is likely to do mischief if it escapes -it must escape and cause damage

20 Rylands v Fletcher (1868) The defendant built a reservoir on his land. The water which accumulated in the reservoir entered an old mine shaft and flooded the plaintiff’s mine. It was not foreseeable that this would happen. HELD – the defendant was liable even though the damage was not foreseeable. Judge against criteria on previous slide.

21 ACTIVITY A is the owner of a piece of land, and he knows that natural gas tends to accumulate in caverns under the land. Building works by A causes one of the caverns holding this gas to fracture, and the resulting escape of gas causes a fire on B’s adjoining land. Why could B not sue under the rule in Rylands v Fletcher?

22 RECAP OF SESSION SO FAR….. What a tort is – civil wrongdoing Some torts require just a wrongdoing – others also require that damage has been suffered Remedies for torts – damages/injunctions Damages (£’s) may be awarded for harm done to somebody remote from wrongdoer Damages (£’s) are usually only awarded when the loss is reasonably foreseeable

23 RECAP (CTD) Vicarious liability – employers responsible for wrongdoings of employees What constitutes an employee Most torts can be avoided if the defendant takes reasonable care to avoid a wrongdoing, but Sometimes the courts impose a (automatic) strict liability eg Rylands v Fletcher

24 RECAP ON EXAMPLES OF TORTS TRESPASS - to land, person & goods (some are also crimes) OCCUPIERS’ LIABILITY PRIVATE NUISANCE PUBLIC NUISANCE (also a crime) DEFAMATION – libel & slander NEGLIGENCE – most important tort – next week

25 TYPES OF TORT NEGLIGENCE – next week PRIVATE NUISANCE – indirect unlawful interference with another person’s use or enjoyment of his land eg noisy neighbours, tree roots, noxious fumes

26 PRIVATE NUISANCE Leeman v Montagu (1936) The defendant bought a house, he kept a flock of 750 cockerels, which crowed from 2am to 7am. The plaintiff asked for ? Held – an injunction was granted as a nuisance was being made

27 PUBLIC NUISANCE An act or omission which affects the comfort & convenience of the public eg blocking the road. (also a crime)

28 OCCUPIER’S LIABILITY Occupier’s of a premises owe a duty of care to all lawful visitors, and a separate duty of care to trespassers. Also in statute- Occupier’s Liability Act if it is known that a danger may exist -if it is known that a trespasser may be in the vicinity -if a risk of damage to the trespasser is one that the occupier would normally be expected to provide protection for Eg children on railway lines

29 TRESPASS TO LAND Any unauthorised direct interference with another person’s land – by entering another’s land And Depositing things on it Trespass can be underneath the ground or in the airspace above it (Statutes give protection for airplanes and British Coal)

30 TRESPASS TO THE PERSON Battery – inflicting unlawful force on another (also a crime) Assault – when a person is made to feel unreasonably frightened – eg having a loaded gun pointed at you (also a crime) False imprisonment – wrongly depriving another person of personal liberty (crime?)

31 TRESPASS TO GOODS CONVERSION – if a person is denied the right to possess his/her own goods. A person can be liable for this tort even if they acted innocently. Eg if a thief steals a car and sells it to an innocent purchaser, the purchaser is liable for conversion even though he did not know the car was stolen – he will have to return the car to the owner.

32 DEFAMATION The publication of a statement which would lower the claimant in the opinion of someone else. Libel – publication in a permanent form – written, internet, film, art. More serious – does not need financial loss to be suffered Slander- publication in a transient form – speech, gestures. Less serious, claimant must suffer financial loss to take action. Tort questions

33 The main defences to torts Ie how defendants (alleged wrongdoers) can defend their actions. Handout (diagram) & cases handout

34 CONSENT IS FREELY GIVEN If a person (A) has freely consented to a risk, the person who is alleged to have committed the wrongdoing (B) will have a defence. Ie A will not succeed in their claim against B, if A suffered harm as a result of B doing something.

35 RESCUE CASES (SUB-DIVISION OF GIVING FREELY GIVING CONSENT TO TAKING A RISK) A person who accepts a risk to rescue others, is not deemed to have given their consent freely – ie they can take action in tort if they are injured whilst making the rescue.

36 UNAVOIDABLE ACCIDENT An accident is a defence against a wrongdoing only if it could not have been foreseen nor avoided by any reasonable care of the defendant.

37 ACT OF GOD An unforeseeable catastrophe, a special type of unavoidable accident This defence is rarely available

38 STATUTORY AUTHORITY If a statute (law made by Parliament) requires that something be done, there is no liability in doing it (unless it is done negligently).

39 ACT OF STATE If a person causes damage or loss in the course of their duties for the State, he/she may claim ‘Act of State’. But It is not a defence if the claimant is a British subject or subject of a friendly foreign power

40 NECESSITY An act which causes damage may be intentional, as long as it was reasonable/prevented a greater evil/defended the realm. eg Shooting a dog to prevent it worrying sheep

41 MISTAKE An intentional act which was a mistake, may be defensible if it was reasonable. Eg Making a citizen’s arrest in the sincere belief that the claimant committed a crime.

42 SELF DEFENCE This is a valid defence if the defendant acted to preserve himself, his family, or his property So long as the act was 1. reasonable and 2. in keeping with the nature of the threat. If a blow is struck, in response to a verbal attack, this is not reasonable & therefore, there is no defence.

43 CONTRIBUTORY NEGLIGENCE If damage suffered to a claimant is partly caused by him/herself, the damages are proportionately reduced. Law Reform (Contributory Negligence ) Act 1945.

44 Contributory Negligence (ctd) O’Connell v Jackson 1971) The motorcyclist ( O’Connell) injured in a crash caused by the defendant, did not wear a crash helmet and had his damages reduced by 15%.

45 Contributory Negligence (ctd) A child can be guilty of contributory negligence, but in deciding the degree of personal contribution, their age is taken into account by the Court.

46 REMEDIES IN TORT (more detail) DAMAGES (£’S) 1. ordinary – compensation for losses that cannot be proven/ascertained. 2. special – compensation for losses that can be proven eg clothing, cars 3. exemplary/aggravated – intended to punish the defendant and defer him & others in future. Very rare. Eg newspaper libel cases 4. nominal – where there has been ‘injury’ but no real damage eg trespass to land without damage to land

47 REMEDIES IN TORT (more detail) INJUNCTIONS 1. interlocutory – given before the Court hearing. 2. perpetual – granted at a full hearing and continues until revoked by court.


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