Tort Law: Negligence (Legal Causation)

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Tort Law: Negligence (Legal Causation) - Quiz


This will cover Legal causation as taught in the lectures by Kartina.


Questions and Answers
  • 1. 

    Causation in Law is broken down into two parts;
    1. REMOTENESS of the harm
    2. A BREAK IN THE CHAIN OF CAUSATION
    The test for remoteness of the damage is; was the kind of damage suffered by the claimant REASONABLY FORESEEABLE at the time the breach occurred? In the WAGON MOUND (NO 1) case, was a thin layer of oil floating on the surface of the water; catching fire because of welding taking place on another boat; subsequently causing extensive damage to other boats... reasonably foreseeable?

    • A.

      Yes

    • B.

      No

    Correct Answer
    B. No
    Explanation
    In the WAGON MOUND (NO 1) case, it was determined that the extensive damage caused by the fire was not reasonably foreseeable. This is because the harm caused by the fire was not of the same kind as the harm that could have been reasonably anticipated from the thin layer of oil on the water. Therefore, there was a break in the chain of causation, and the defendant was not held liable for the damage caused.

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  • 2. 

    So a layer of oil on the surface of water, catching fire and causing damage to the surrounding boats was not reasonably foreseeable in the FIRST case where it happened... But in WAGON MOUND (NO 2) it was reasonably foreseeable - because it had already happened in the first case... Back on the structure: in this case, a farm was infested with rats, a worker contracted WEILS DISEASE as a result of contact with rat urine. This was not seen to be a reasonably foreseeable consequence of having a rat infested field - rat bites and contaminated food were foreseeable, but not contracting a disease.

    • A.

      Jobling v Associated Dairies

    • B.

      Tremain v Pike

    • C.

      McKew v Holland

    • D.

      Knightly v Johns

    Correct Answer
    B. Tremain v Pike
    Explanation
    The correct answer is Tremain v Pike. In this case, a worker contracted WEILS DISEASE as a result of contact with rat urine in a rat-infested field. The court held that this consequence was not reasonably foreseeable, as rat bites and contaminated food were foreseeable but not contracting a disease. This case is different from the others mentioned, where the courts found that the harm was reasonably foreseeable based on previous similar incidents.

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  • 3. 

    In this case, the defendant's employee left a manhole open overnight, with a tent covering it and parafin lamps lit around it. An 8 year old child played with the lamps, which caused an explosion and burnt the child. It was foreseeable that the leaving parafin lamps around could lead to burns.

    • A.

      Tremain v Pike

    • B.

      Smith v Leech Brain

    • C.

      Knightley v Johns

    • D.

      Hughes v Lord Advocate

    Correct Answer
    D. Hughes v Lord Advocate
    Explanation
    In Hughes v Lord Advocate, the court held that the defendant, who was a government employee, was liable for the injuries caused to a child due to their negligence. The defendant left a manhole open overnight, with a tent covering it and parafin lamps lit around it. It was foreseeable that leaving parafin lamps around could lead to burns, especially if children were present. Therefore, the defendant should have taken reasonable precautions to prevent such accidents from occurring. The court found the defendant negligent in failing to ensure the safety of the area and held them liable for the child's injuries.

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  • 4. 

    This case established the "thin (egg shell) skull rule." If the TYPE of damage is foreseeable then the defendant is for the entire damage regardless of the extent. In this case, the claimant's lip was splashed with molton metal; on a pre-cancerous growth. This activated the cancer, so the employer was liable for entire damage despite the growth being a special factor.

    • A.

      Tremain v Pike

    • B.

      Smith v Leech Brain

    • C.

      Gough v Torne

    • D.

      Collins v Wilcock

    Correct Answer
    B. Smith v Leech Brain
    Explanation
    In Smith v Leech Brain, the court established the "thin (egg shell) skull rule," which means that if the type of damage is foreseeable, the defendant is liable for the entire damage regardless of the extent. In this case, the claimant's lip was splashed with molten metal, which activated a pre-cancerous growth and caused the development of cancer. Despite the growth being a special factor, the employer was still held liable for the entire damage because the type of harm caused by the molten metal was foreseeable.

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  • 5. 

    If there is a break in the chain of causation (novus actus interveniens) then the liability lapses - as you did not ultimately cause the result. A LATER NEGLIGENT ACT can break the chain of causation In this case, a police officer was told to stop traffic on the other side of a contra-flow after a road accident. The officer, instead of going in the same direction of the traffic (the long way around) went the wrong direction and caused a collision. The claimant sued the original defendant - but the police officer driving the wrong way amounted to a break in the chain of causation.

    • A.

      Knightly v Johns

    • B.

      Smith v Jones

    • C.

      Fisher v Bell

    • D.

      Houlton v Jones

    Correct Answer
    A. Knightly v Johns
    Explanation
    In the case of Knightly v Johns, the police officer's negligent act of driving the wrong way broke the chain of causation. The claimant initially sued the original defendant, but since the police officer's actions were an intervening cause that led to the collision, the liability of the original defendant lapsed. Therefore, Knightly v Johns is the correct answer as it exemplifies how a later negligent act can break the chain of causation and release the original defendant from liability.

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  • 6. 

    An act of the claimant, with the effect of worsening the damage, can amount to an intervening act thus a break in the chain of causation. In this case, the claimant suffered a leg injury at work - and then walked down stairs without using the hand rail, fell and worsened his injuries. Not using the hand rail was an intervening act.

    • A.

      Knightley v Johns

    • B.

      Smith v Leech Brain

    • C.

      Tremain v Pike

    • D.

      McKew v Holland

    Correct Answer
    D. McKew v Holland
    Explanation
    In McKew v Holland, the claimant suffered an injury and then engaged in an act that worsened the damage. This act of not using the handrail while walking down the stairs can be considered an intervening act that breaks the chain of causation. This means that the claimant's actions contributed to the worsening of their injuries, and therefore, they may be held partially responsible for the outcome.

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