Fundamentals of Law:- a brief tour of the subject..


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Last Updated 3 February 2010







Tort Law I


Key Elements of Tort

To Succeed in an action in negligence the plaintiff must prove:
a). that the defendant owed them a legal duty of care, and
b). that the defendant has been guilty of a breach of that duty, and
c). that damages have been caused to the plaintiff by that breach.
Have a read of the the case Donoghue v Stevenson [1932] AC 562. This case is the leading case to the emergence of the law of Negligence as we know it today. After you have read the case think about the following questions:

  • What was the case about?
  • Why did Donoghue bring the case against Stevenson rather than anyone else?
  • What did the majority of the Court decide?
  • Why was Lord Atkin’s statement so important?
  • Why was this case so important?

This case about liability generally and it highlighted some of the deficiencies that exist in obtaining an action against parties outside the boundaries of contract. The key limitation of the doctrine of privity was overcome here through enabling those injured by the defective goods of another to obtain liability. Hence, you potentially could be liable for acts or omissions that harm your neighbour. Lord Atkin referred to this doctrine as the 'neighbour principle'. This case is important as it was the catalyst of many cases that followed and symbolised the emergence of the area of law we now refer to as the tort of negligence.

Some interesting Links:-

1. Australian Safeway Stores Pty Ltd v Zaluzna [1987] HCA 7; (1987) 162 CLR 479 (10 March 1987)

2. Jaensch v Coffey [1984] HCA 52





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