The tort of Negligence
The Law of Negligence
Tort of negligence is a careless act that causes harm to another/ failure to show reasonable care
Reasonable Care: The care a reasonable person would exhibit in a similar way
The tort law of negligence makes the defendant liable for failing to act reasonably eg. Driving to fast,
unprofessional advice etc.
Negligence law like tort law seeks to compensate victims for their loss or injury
Steps to a Negligence Action
Step 1: Does the defendant owe the plaintiff a duty of care? If yes, proceed.
Step 2: Did the defendant breach the standard of care? If yes, proceed to the next step.
Step 3: Did the defendant’s careless careless act (or omission) cause the plaintiff’s injury?
Step 4: Was the injury suffered by the plaintiff too remote? If not, the plaintiff has proven negligence
Neighbor: Anyone who might reasonably be affected by another’s conduct.
Duty of care: The responsibility owed to avoid carelessness that causes harm to others.
A court must 1 ask whether the case at bar presents a novel situation or not. If the case is
comparable to an already-decided case in which duty of care was recognized, stage 1 can be
skipped and the plaintiff can proceed directly to the 2 stage. If the case issue is novel, court is
required to assess the issue of duty.
Prima Facie: At first sight or on first appearances
Stage 1: Is there a prima facie duty of care?: Court must consider several smaller question
a. Is the harm that occurred reasonably foreseeable consequence of the defendants act?
> If yes, proceed to next question
b. Is there a relationship of sufficient proximity between the parties such that it would not be unjust or unfair
to impose a duty of care on the defendant?
> Proximity considered whether the specific circumstances of the party’s relationship are such that the
defendant is under an obligation to be mindful of the plaintiff’s legitimate interests in conducting his/her
> If yes proceed to stage 2
Stage 2: Are there residual policy considerations outside the relationship of the parties that may negative the
imposition of a duty of care?
This stage asks the question to determine if imposing duty in this circumstance would be unwise
Must determine if there are any considerations that would eliminate or reduce the duty
Step 2: Did the defendant breach the standard of care?
Defendant’s conduct is judged according to the standards of behaviour that would be observed by the
reasonable person in society
Reasonable Person: The standard used to judge whether a person’s conduct in a particular situation
Where the defendant exercises specialized skills, the standard of a reasonable person. Professionals
such as doctors, accountants etc. must meet a higher or specialized standard b/c of their level of
expertise of the average member of society is simply an inadequate as a measure of competence
Where the activity or product poses a high risk, the law imposes higher standards of care
Did the defendant’s careless act (or omission) cause the plaintiff’s injury?
Causation: The relationship that exists between the defendant’s conduct and the plaintiff’s loss or Injury. Legal test for causation is sometimes debated courts generally have little difficulty reaching a
decision on causation by asking: would the harm not have occurred but for the defendant’s
Step 4: Was the injury suffered by the plaintiff too remote?
The court asks, “even if there is an obligation to take reasonable care and it was breached, how far will
the legal liability of the defendant stretch?
Idea here is that there must be some limit on the defendants responsibility for the consequences of his
Remoteness of Damage: The absence of a sufficiently clos