Duty of Care in UK Law

Leading Cases
  • Anns v Merton London Borough Council
    • House of Lords
    • 12 May 1977

    First one has to ask whether, as between the alleged wrongdoer and the person who has suffered damage there is a sufficient relationship of proximity or neighbourhood such that, in the reasonable contemplation of the former, carelessness on his part may be likely to cause damage to the latter—in which case a prima facie duty of care arises.

  • Caparo Industries Plc v Dickman
    • House of Lords
    • 08 Feb 1990

    What emerges is that, in addition to the foreseeability of damage, necessary ingredients in any situation giving rise to a duty of care are that there should exist between the party owing the duty and the party to whom it is owed a relationship characterised by the law as one of "proximity" or "neighbourhood" and that the situation should be one in which the court considers it fair, just and reasonable that the law should impose a duty of a given scope upon the one party for the benefit of the other.

  • M'Alister or Donoghue (Pauper) v Stevenson
    • House of Lords
    • 26 May 1932

    You must take reasonable care to avoid acts or omissions which you can reasonably foresee would be likely to injure your 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.

  • Elguzouli-Daf v Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis; McBrearty v Ministry of Defence
    • Court of Appeal
    • 16 Nov 1994

    In my view such a duty of care would tend to have an inhibiting effect on the discharge by the CPS of its central function of prosecuting crime. It would in some cases lead to a defensive approach by prosecutors to their multifarious duties. It would introduce a risk that prosecutors would act so as to protect themselves from claims of negligence.

  • Dorset Yacht Company Ltd v Home Office
    • House of Lords
    • 06 May 1970

    Donoghue v. Stevenson [1932] A.C. 562 may be regarded as a milestone, and the well-known passage in Lord Atkin's speech should I think be regarded as a statement of principle. It is not to be treated as if it were a statutory definition. But I think that the time has come when we can and should say that it ought to apply unless there is some justification or valid explanation for its exclusion.

  • Hedley Byrne & Company Ltd v Heller & Partners Ltd
    • House of Lords
    • 28 May 1963

    Furthermore, if in a sphere in which a person is so placed that others could reasonably rely upon his judgment or his skill or upon his ability to make careful inquiry, a person takes it upon himself to give information or advice to, or allows his information or advice to be passed on to, another person who, as he knows or should know, will place reliance upon it, then a duty of care will arise.

  • Anns v Merton London Borough Council
    • House of Lords
    • 12 May 1977

    But this duty, heavily operational though it may be, is still a duty arising under the statute. There may be a discretionary element in its exercise—discretionary as to the time and manner of inspection, and the techniques to be used. A plaintiff complaining of negligence must prove, the burden being on him, that action taken was not within the limits of a discretion bona fide exercised, before he can begin to rely upon a common law duty of care.

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