Previous: Tort and other areas of law

Negligence is perhaps the most well known tort, or civil wrong. The Oxford dictionary of law starts their extensive definition by saying that negligence means, ”Carelessness amounting to the culpable breach of a duty”.


There are three requirements for any negligence claim:

  • A legal duty to take care
  • A breach of this duty
  • Damage caused by the breach which is not too remote

In this section, we will almost exclusively focus on establishing a duty of care. However, in the vast majority of tort claims, the question is as to whether there has been a breach; precedent usually shows whether there is a duty or not.

A legal duty to take care

Here lies the main examination – is there a legal duty to take care in the present case. If so, the law may consider whether there is a claim or not.

Donoghue v Stevenson [1932]

The concept of a duty of care was first established in the case of Donoghue v Stevenson [1932] with Lord Atkin’s legendary judgment. The test went as follows:

  • You owe a duty to anyone who is your neighbour for any of your acts or omissions
  • Your neighbour is anyone who could reasonably be foreseen as being affected by your acts or omissions

Anns v Merton London Borough Council [1978]

Lord Wilberforce attempted to refine Lord Atkin’s test of establishment of a duty of care in the case of Anns v Merton London Borough Council [1978]...

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