but for Test in UK Law

Leading Cases
  • Orient-Express Hotels Ltd v Assicurazioni General SA (UK Branch) (t/a Generali Global Risk)
    • Queen's Bench Division (Commercial Court)
    • 27 May 2010

    As a general rule the “but for” test is a necessary condition for establishing causation in fact. However, there may be cases in which fairness and reasonableness require that it should not be a necessary condition. This is most likely to be in the context of negligence or conversion claims, but I would accept that in principle it is not limited to tort or to particular torts.

  • James v Eastleigh Borough Council
    • House of Lords
    • 14 Jun 1990

    This is because, as I see it, cases of direct discrimination under section 1(1)( a) can be considered by asking the simple question: would the complainant have received the same treatment from the defendant but for his or her sex?

  • Kuwait Airways Corporation v Iraqi Airways Company (Nos 4 & 5)
    • House of Lords
    • 16 May 2002

    This guideline principle is concerned to identify and exclude losses lacking a causal connection with the wrongful conduct. Expressed in its simplest form, the principle poses the question whether the plaintiff would have suffered the loss without ('but for') the defendant's wrongdoing. If he would not, the wrongful conduct was a cause of the loss. If the loss would have arisen even without the defendant's wrongdoing, normally it does not give rise to legal liability.

    Academic writers have drawn attention to its limitations: see, for example, the late Professor Fleming's The Law of Torts, 9th ed (1998), pp 222-230, and Markesinis & Deacon Tort Law, 4th ed (1999), pp 178-191. Even the sophisticated variants of the 'but for' test cannot be expected to set out a formula whose mechanical application will provide infallible threshold guidance on causal connection for every tort in every circumstance. In particular, the 'but for' test can be over-exclusionary.

    The classic example is where two persons independently search for the source of a gas leak with the aid of lighted candles. According to the simple 'but for' test, neither would be liable for damage caused by the resultant explosion. In this type of case, involving multiple wrongdoers, the court may treat wrongful conduct as having sufficient causal connection with the loss for the purpose of attracting responsibility even though the simple 'but for' test is not satisfied.

  • Montgomery v Lanarkshire Health Board
    • Supreme Court (Scotland)
    • 11 Mar 2015

    An adult person of sound mind is entitled to decide which, if any, of the available forms of treatment to undergo, and her consent must be obtained before treatment interfering with her bodily integrity is undertaken. The doctor is therefore under a duty to take reasonable care to ensure that the patient is aware of any material risks involved in any recommended treatment, and of any reasonable alternative or variant treatments.

  • Nagarajan v London Regional Transport
    • House of Lords
    • 15 Jul 1999

    Thus, in every case it is necessary to enquire why the complainant received less favourable treatment. Or was it for some other reason, for instance, because the complainant was not so well qualified for the job? Save in obvious cases, answering the crucial question will call for some consideration of the mental processes of the alleged discriminator. Treatment, favourable or unfavourable, is a consequence which follows from a decision.

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Books & Journal Articles
  • Sienkiewicz v Greif (UK Ltd), Knowsley MBC v Willmore: A fair or logical decision?
    • Núm. 3-1, Enero 2013
    • Southampton Student Law Review
    • Lyndsey Banthorpe
    • 61-68
    The article discusses the issues of causation surrounding mesothelioma claims in light of the recent decision of Sienkiewicz v Greif (UK) Ltd, Knowsley MBC v Willmore [2011] UKSC 10 and Williams (D...
    ...... d id n ot affe ct t he excep tio n it se lf, th e ar ticle also dis cus ses wh eth er t he e xcep tio n t o t he ‘ bu t fo r’ test sh ou ld b e ext en d ed or whe t he r it sh o uld b e lim it ed as m u ch a s p os sib le. Gi ven th a t it is con sid er ......
    • Núm. 32-1, Enero 1976
    • Journal of Documentation
    • 59-75
    Many retrieval experiments have been based on inadequate test collections, and current research is hampered by the lack of proper collections. This short review does not attempt a fully documented ...
  • Road test.
    • Núm. 2001, Enero 2001
    • Financial Management (UK)
    • Margolis, Adrienne
    • Statistical Data Included
    ...If ever times were tough for the fleet market, they are now, with high fuel prices and punitive government measures. But it seems that treating 'em mean is keeping companies keen. We maybe becoming more environmentally aware, but the British love a......
  • The LSP/SNI Test Facility
    • Núm. 4-1, Enero 1986
    • Library Hi Tech
    • 41-49
    Vendors who are implementing the Standard Network Interconnection (SNI) protocols for computer to computer communications can now test their implementation against the LSP/SNI Test Facility, which ...
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Law Firm Commentaries
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