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Although we spend a long time looking at whether a duty exists, in the majority of tort claims, precedent answers this question. Therefore, given that there is a duty, how do we show that this duty has been breached?

The standard of breach

It is commonplace in tort law to talk about ‘the reasonable man’. Regarding breach of duty, the test is no different. But who or what is the reasonable man? Blyth v Birmingham Waterworks [1856] talked about the concept as follows:

Negligence is the omission to do something which a reasonable man, guided upon those considerations which ordinarily regulate the conduct of human affairs, would do; or doing something which a prudent and reasonable man would not do.

This doesn’t really answer the question though. In Glasgow Corp v Muir [1943], it was said that the test is purely objective, and that idiosyncrasies should be ignored. In Hall v Brooklands Auto Club [1933], the reasonable man is apparently required to carry out certain tasks, namely that they are to commute on the London underground. Perhaps we should take this description which a pinch of salt.

A final point to note here is that as women are known to the law (yes, really!), we should now refer to the ‘reasonable person’, rather than the ‘reasonable man’.

Skill and experience

The reasonable professional

Where someone claims to have a certain skill or experience in a matter, the actions they take within that capacity must be taken with the care of the reasonable professional...

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