NEGLIGENCE: THE STANDARD OF CARE
For negligence claims:
1) suffered harm
2) show that D owed a duty of care
3) show that D was careless
4) show D caused P‟s injuries
5) P has to show that injuries are not too remote (remoteness of damages)
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‖ Pg. 76.
THE OBJECTIVE STANDARD
Vaughan v. Menlove (1837):
Objective standard of care: whether D had acted with the reasonable degree of caution that a
prudent and careful person might have been expected to exercise.
applies a standard reasonable to the person, i.e. ‗reasonable blind person‘)
Standard of Care Expected of the Disabled
Buckley v. Smith Transport (1946):
TEST: whether an individual, notwithstanding his/her delusions, might still understand and
appreciate duty upon him/her to take care. If understanding and appreciation exist in
mind, and delusions do not interfere, individual is liable for breach of duty.
Roberts v. Ramsbottom (1980):
Objective Standard: eliminates the personal equation and is independent of the idiosyncrasies
of the particular person whose conduct is in question
BUT…objective standard can become a subjective standard (in driving case) when:
a prima facie case of negligence can be rebutted by showing that a sudden affliction has
rendered him unconscious or otherwise wholly incapable of controlling the vehicle
Standard of Care Expected of Children
McHale v. Watson (1966):
RULE: The standard of care applicable to children is only partially objective in that it
must be adjusted incrementally in accordance with the age of the child in question.
EXCEPTION: when children are engaged in adult activities (i.e. McErlean v
-How can a standard of care be determined?
Bolton v. Stone (HL, 1951): (HL)
RULE: It is justifiable not to take steps to eliminate a real risk if it is small and if
the circumstances are such that a reasonable man, careful of the safety of his
neighbour, would think it right to neglect it
Watt v. Hertfordshire County Council (1954): (injured fire fighter)
in measuring due care the risk must be balanced against the measures necessary to eliminate
the risk and also against the end to be achieved.
the social worthiness of the action must always be considered and, here the risks involved in
sending out the truck with the jack in it were not so great as to prohibit the attempt to save
Custom & Standard of Care
How do Courts use Customs?
- basically, 4 required steps in the procedure:
1) onus on party relying on custom to prove the custom (usually the D).
2) Non-compliance with the custom is prima facie (a working standard) evidence of negligence.
3) If you’ve complied with the standard, then prima facie there is no negligence…
There will be:
4) Onus on other party to show that the custom itself is negligent (not reasonable).
Trimarco v. Klein (1982):
RULE: Custom and usage will be an appropriate standard by which to judge whether an action is
negligent, so long as the custom/usage is in itself reasonable
ter Neuzen v. Korn (SCC, 1995):
RULE: As a general rule, where a procedure involves difficult or uncertain questions of medial
treatment beyond the ordinary experience of a judge/jury, it will not be open to find a
standard medical practice negligent.
EXCEPTION: On the other hand, as an exception to this rule, if a standard practice fails
to adopt obvious and reasonable precautions which are readily apparent to an ordinary
finder of fact, then it is no excuse for a practitioner to claim that he was merely
conforming to such a negligent common practice.
the conduct of doctors must be judged in the light of the knowledge that ought to have
been reasonably possessed at the time of the alleged act of negligence.
PROOF OF NEGLIGENCE
Byrne v. Boadle
Res ipsa loquitur—in some cases the courts have held that the mere fact of the accident having
occurred is evidence of negligence.
The fact of the barrel falling was prima facie evidence of negligence.
Injured plaintiff is not bound to show that it could not fall without negligence, but if there
are any facts inconsistent with negligence it is for the defendant to prove them.
Fontaine v. British Columbia (Official Administrator) (SCC)
Res ipsa loquitur only operates to provide evidence of negligence in the absence of an
explanation of the cause of the accident.
If at the conclusion of the case, it would be equally reasonable to infer negligence or no
negligence, the plaintiff will lose since he or she bears the legal burden on this issue.
Flemming-―recognition of a duty of care is the outcome of a value judgment, that the plaintiff‘s
invaded interest is deemed worthy of legal protection against negligent interference by conduct of
the kind alleged against the defendant.
Winterbottom v. Wright (1842):
RULE: The right to recover for breach of contract is confined to those who enter into the actual
contract (privity of contract). Without privity of contract in this case, there is Ø duty of
care of D to P.
M’Alister (Donoghue) v. Stevenson (HL, 1932):
contractual relation is irrelevant to recovery in tort law.
RULE:A manufacturer of products, which he sells in such a form as to show that he intends them
to reach the ultimate consumer in the form in which they left him with no reasonable
possibility of intermediate examination, and with the knowledge that the absence of
reasonable care in the preparation of putting up of the products will result in an injury to
the consumer‘s life or property, owes a duty to the consumer to take that reasonable care.
Introduced notion of foreseeability
Neighbour Principle-Who is my neighbour? Person 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.
Deyong v. Shenburn (1946): (Actor‟s stolen clothes)
Facts: - P is an actor whose clothes were stolen from his dressing room.
-sued the producer for failing to use reasonable care in safeguarding his property.
RULE: ―it is not true to say that wherever a man finds himself in such a position that unless he
does a certain act another person may suffer, or that if he does something another person
will suffer, then it is his duty in the one case to be careful to do the act and in the other
case to be careful not to do the act – any such proposition is much too wide‖ (pg. 123)
Suggestion in this case that policy decisions are made based on what a ―neighbour‖ is,
and what duty of care is owed.
Watson v. Buckley and Osborne (1940): (hairdressing product)
Ratio: Distributor cannot escape liability by saying ―the initial mistake was made by someone
for whose actions I am not responsible‖.
Clay v. A.J. Crump & Sons Ltd. (1964):
RULE: A chain of causation and arising duty of care will not be broken if one party had the
‗final opportunity‘ to inspect a dangerous structure --- the other parties that inspected it
will also have a duty
Palsgraf v. Long Island Railroad Co. (1928):
[the American version of Donoghue v. Stevenson]
Ratio: In every instance, before negligence can be predicated of a given act, it must be shown
that there existed a duty to the individual complaining, the observance of which would
have averted or avoided the injury. Injury must have been reasonably foreseeable for the
duty of care to arise
DUTY TO RESCUER
Haynes v. Harwood (1935):
RULE: Where a wrongful act causes damage that could have been reasonably anticipated as a
result of the wrongful act, the ―doctrine of assumption of risk‖ does not apply where P
faces a risk of death as a result of attempting to save a person from the results of D‘s
wrongful misconduct (even if P owes no special duty to the person being saved)
it is sufficient to show that the accident is of a class that might well be anticipated as one
of the reasonable and probable results of the wrongful act.
Wagner v. International Railway Co. (1921):
RULE: wrongdoer is accountable as if he would have foreseen the rescuer intervening
Dobson v. Dobson (1999), SCC
primary purpose to tort law: to provide compensation to the injured and deterrence to the
imposition of tort liability on mother would provide neither.
McLACHLIN J: Concurring
common law must reflect the values of the Charter. Liability for fetal injury by pregnant
women would run contrary to the most fundamental of these values:
Liberty: virtually every action of a prego is capable of affecting the health and well-being of her
unborn child, and hence caries the potential for legal action against the pregnant women.
Equality: the intrusion upon the prego‘s autonomy would violate her right to equal treatment.
Any other member of society can avoid being a tortfeasor by isolating himself from other
members of society. A prego has no such choice.
MAJOR J.: Dissenting
appellant already under legal obligation to drive carefully.
owed a duty of care to passengers in car and to other users of highway.
would not have to take any further precautions, additional to those she was already
legally obliged to take, in order to avoid liability to her born alive child.
Charter does not grant prego‘s any interests in negligent driving.
her child‘s prima facie right to sue in tort arises only on the same grounds and in the same
way as that of the driver of the other car.
if same shit happened and other woman‘s child got fucked, no doubt that the child would
have right to sue Dobson.
Duval v. Seguin (1972):
RULE: Defendant owed a duty of care to Plaintiff b/c it was foreseeable that some users of the
highway were pregnant women and that an unborn child could be injured in an accident.
Sometimes, a fetus may be seen as a future claimant - will recover unless it does not end
up being born - only has legal rights when it is born.
Horsley v. MacLaren (1971):
RULE: legal protection is now afforded to one who risks injury to himself in going to the rescue
of another who has been foreseeably exposed to danger by the unreasonable conduct of a third
the latter is now subject to liability at the suit of the rescuer as well as at the suit of the
Urbanski v. Patel (1978):
i) father‘s effort to help his daughter is a consequence of the disaster that befell her
ii) it was entirely foreseeable that P‘s father would have donated kidney
Cooper v. Hobart (SCC)
Revised Ann‟s Test:
1. Any analogous categories?
2. Was the harm that occurred the reasonably foreseeable consequence of the defendant‘s
3. Are there reasons, notwithstanding the proximity between the parties established in the
first part of this test, that tort liability should not be recognized here?
even if there is a duty and the defendant was negligent, he may not be liable if the injury
was found to be too remote.
Directness and Foreseeability Tests
Re Polemis and Furness, Withy & Co. (1921):
[*no longer good law re: remoteness as of Wagon
Mound No. 1]
RULE: Once a person is found negligent for an act, it does not matter whether the precise extent
of the damage caused by the act was reasonably foreseeable. Once found negligent, the
individual is liable for the damages that arise, regardless of how unforeseeable the extent
of those damages were.
If the damage is a direct consequence of the act, it doesn‟t have to be reasonably
foreseeable. The damage must be the direct and immediate consequence of the act;
foreseeability is an element of directness.
TEST: once negligence is established (on basis of reasonable foreseeability), one is liable for all
damages that are „direct consequences‟ of the action
The Wagon Mound No. 1 (Privy Council, 1961):
[authority on remoteness]
RULE: A man must be considered responsible for the probable consequences of his acts. Those
consequences must be reasonably foreseeable.
Privy Council held that Re Polemis (which stated that a D is responsible for all
consequences that are the direct result of the act whether reasonably foreseeable or not) is
not good law.
foreseeability was said to be an effective test, as the direct consequences test (Polemis)
leads only to never-ending and insoluble causation problems
Viscount Simonds: only the type of damage must be reasonably foreseeable, and fire
was not reasonably foreseeable.
TEST FOR REMOTENESS: Consequences/damage of an act must be reasonably
Type vs. Extent of Injury
Smith v. Leech Brain & Co., Ltd. (1962): (burn victim triggering cancer)
RULE: In terms of liability, all that is relevant is whether D could reasonably foresee the TYPE
of injury that occurs. It is immaterial to liability whether D could foresee the exact extent
of that injury, as they will be liable for any ‗after effects‘ the injury is related to. This is
the result of the principle that one must take their victim as they find them
Thin-Skull Rule: tortfeasors must take their victims as they find them
Only the initial injury must have been reasonably foreseeable, and in this case the
possibility of a burn was reasonably foreseeable.
Stephenson v. Waite Tileman Limited (1973): (rope cut caused N.S. disorder)
RULE: there will be liability for harmful consequences arising from a new risk created by a
foreseeable kind of injury.
the “thin-skull‖ principle can operate in two ways:
(a) an accident operates on a pre existing state of special susceptibility in some way latent in the
injured person; or
(b)occurrence of physical injury may expose the inured person to a new risk of further injury
The question of foreseeability is limited to the initial injury.
If reasonable foreseeability is made out with respect to the initial injury, the plaintiff must then
establish an adequate relationship of cause and effect between the initial injury and the ultimate
Cotic v. Gray (1981):
Ratio: Even though D said the suicide was not reasonably foreseeable, the D must take the
plaintiff as he finds him (thin skull rule) – as a psychologically vulnerable person.
Modifications to Reasonable Foreseeability Test – the extent of
Hughes v. Lord Advocate (HL, 1963): (children burned in pothole)
RULE: If a known source of danger causes an accident/damage in a way that could not have
been foreseen, D is still liable. One does not to have to see the extent or circumstances of
the injury only must see the kind/type of injury in order for recovery.
the type of occurrence arising from the lamp was reasonably foreseeable (the burn),
though the source of the danger acted in an unpredictable way (which does not relieve
Doughty v. Turner Manufacturing (1964):
RULE: If a cause of damage is unforeseeable, D will not owe a duty to P, and thus, will not be
responsible for damage that arises as a result of this unforeseeable cause
NOVUS ACTUS INTERVENIENS (INTERVENING ACT):
Another issue in ‗reasonable foreseeability‘
when is D responsible to injuries to P caused by someone else (intervening act)?
Bradford v. Kanellos (1973): SCC (flash fire in restaurant)
RULE: A D will not be held liable for injuries sustained by P, where those injuries resulted from
the intervening act of another, whose actions could not be regarded as within the risk
created by D‘s original negligence.
The intervening act (yelling about noise made by extinguisher) was not reasonably
Home Office v. Dorset Yacht Co. Ltd. (HL, 1970):
RULE: Where human action forms one of the links between the original wrongdoing of the
defendant and the loss suffered by the plaintiff, that action must at least have been
something very likely to happen if it is not to be regarded as novus actus interveniens
breaking the chain of causation.
not all human action breaks the chain of causation.
TEST: If the human action that links the original wrongdoing and the damage was something
that was ‗very likely to happen‘, it will NOT be regarded as an intervening act
Lamb v. London Borough of Camden (CA, 1981): (squatters)
TEST: The appropriate test is reasonable foreseeability limited by remoteness and
causation but ultimately it is a question of policy.
- P paved the way for them by leaving her house unoccupied and unfurnished – there was then
a reasonably foreseeable risk that squatters might enter.
- it was the job of the house owner to keep out squatters and, if they got in, to evict them.
- if P was insured against the loss, the insurers should cover the damages.
Injury would not have happened ―BUT FOR‖ the defendant‘s negligence
The "but for" test recognizes that compensation for negligent conduct should only be
made "where a substantial connection between the injury and defendant's conduct" is
present. It ensures that a defendant will not beheld liable for the plaintiff's injuries where
they "may very well be due to factors unconnected to the defendant and not the fault of
anyone": Snell v. Farrell
If unworkable, use ―MATERIAL CONTRIBUTION‖ instead
o First, it must be impossible for the plaintiff to prove that the defendant's
negligence caused the plaintiff's injury using the "but for" test. The impossibility
must be due to factors that are outside of the plaintiff's control; for example,
current limits of scientific knowledge.
o Second, it must be clear that the defendant breached a duty of care owed to the
plaintiff, thereby exposing the plaintiff to an unreasonable risk of injury, and the
plaintiff must have suffered that form of injury. In other words, the plaintiff's
injury must fall within the ambit of the risk created by the defendant's breach.
One situation requiring an exception to the "but for" test is the situation where it is
impossible to say which of two tortious sources caused the injury, as where two shots are
carelessly fired at the victim, but it is impossible to say which shot injured him: Lewis v.
Cook, Provided that it is established that each of the defendants carelessly or negligently
created an unreasonable risk of that type of injury that the plaintiff in fact suffered (i.e.
carelessly or negligently fired a shot that could have caused the injury), a material
contribution test may be appropriately applied.
Lambton v. Mellish (1894): (2 organ players, injunction)
RULE: If the acts of two persons, each being aware of what the other is doing, amount in the
aggregate to what is an actionable wrong, each is amenable to the remedy against the aggregate
cause of complaint.
Corey v. Havener (1902): (motorcycle effecting horse)
RULE: if each of 2 or more D‘s contribute to an injury to P, all D‘s will be responsible
Kingston and Chicago and NW Ry. (1927): (fires)
RULE: when strictly concurrent acts are wrongful, each (of the D‘s) is liable for the damage
done by all
Wright, “Causation in Tort Law” (1985):
-NESS (Necessary Element of a Sufficient Set) TEST of cause in fact:
a particular condition is the cause of a specific consequence if and only if it was a
necessary element of a set of antecedent actual conditions that was sufficient for the
occurrence of the consequence
ex.) if any 2 of 3 fires were sufficient for the injury, but none by itself was sufficient,
each was a cause of the injury since each was necessary for the sufficiency of a set of
actual antecedent conditions that included only on of the other fires
Conclusions: -NESS Test would establish causal status to a very small fire that merged with a
-the very small fire was a duplicative cause of any resulting injury
-whether the person who tortiously caused the first fire should be held liable is a
question of policy to be determined under the heading of damages
Sunrise Co. Ltd. et al v. Ship “Lake Winnipeg” (1991): (SCC)
RULE: Where 2 D‘s each cause damage to a P, the D that has caused more extensive damage
will be liable for all damages caused
Athey v. Leonati (1996): (hurting back)
‖crumbling skull‖ principle
“CRUMBLING SKULL RULE”: (P had a pre-existing condition that already put them on the
way to the injury --- different from ―thin skull‖ where there is a susceptibility to the injury) means
that P should only be put back in the position they were in with their ‗already crumbling skull‘
(i.e. if someone injures a person that has MS, they put the P back in a position the person they
would have been in as a person with MS, not a person who did not have MS)
RULE: The presence of non-tortious contributing causes will not affect D‘s liability where the
injury D causes materially contributed to P‘s overall injury.
Blackstock v. Foster (1958): (rear-ended, bumped chest, result in tumour)
RULE: The finding of a causal connection holding D liable is justified only when
positive knowledge or common experience supplies some adequate ground for believing
that the events are naturally associated. The onus is on P to prove the causal
connection b/w D‟s actions and P‟s injury.
RULE: when the casual connection is questionable, the burden falls on P to prove
connection b/w D’s breach of duty and P’s injuries, on a balance of probabilities
Cook v. Lewis (1951): SCC
RULE: Where 2 D‘s are involved, and the negligence of one causes injury to P, it rests
with each D to absolve themselves if they can. The P should not be put in the position of
proving which D caused the harm. The parties were not involved in a joint enterprise in a
sufficient way to merit imposing joint liability. Court will impose liability where both Ds
were negligent, and either of the Ds could have caused the accident, but it cannot be
determined which D.
Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital v. Koziol (1977):
RULE: if cause of negligence is unknown, there cannot be liability
Sindell v. Abbott Laboratories et al (1980):
[different from Cook v. Lewis b/c in Sindell, 100% of Ds caused damages whereas in Cook only
1 of 2 Ds caused damages]
RULE: where many potential D‘s are responsible for an injury to P, but it is not possible
to identify which particular D caused the injury, the ―market share principle‖ will hold
each D liable for the proportion of the judgment represented by its share of that market,
unless the D can demonstrate that it could not have contributed to the injuries. ”Market
McGhee v. National Coal Board (1972): (HL) (exposure to dust resulted in
(1) where a person creates risk by a breach of duty of care, and injury occurs w/in area of
that risk, the loss should be borne by that person unless he shows that the injury has
some other cause
(2) a person is liable in negligence to a plaintiff if the person‘s breach of duty caused, or
materially contributed to, plaintiff‘s injury, notwithstanding that other factors contributed to the
injury for which the person was not responsible
(3) when a P demonstrates on a balance of probabilities that D caused or materially contributed
to P‘s injury, the onus shifts to D to disprove causation
Farrell v. Snell (1990): (SCC)
RULE: Once a P produces evidence that D caused or materially contributed to their
injury, and D does not produce evidence to the contrary, it is justified for the court to
draw an inference adverse to D. In a situation like this, the burden of proof does not
‗shift‘ (as stated in McGhee by Wilberforce), but rather, an inference is drawn in the
absence of evidence from D. The injury and the action must be substantially related –
meaning that the D‘s actions more likely than not caused P‘s injury
Test: P must show a substantial connection b/w their injuries and Ds negligent act
Hotson v. East Berkshire Area Health Authority (1987): (HL)
LOSS OF CHANCE
RULE: Damages in tort are confined to compensating proved financial or physical losses
and the loss of a chance is neither. A D‘s negligent actions will not provide recovery for
a ‗loss of chance‘ where that chance was already sufficiently impaired by P‘s original
condition (i.e. even if D was negligent, if D‘s intervention would have not changed P‘s
- premised on the notion that the duty of care for others should be no higher than the duty of care
for oneself (this ensures that the public will not get accustomed to looking to others for protection
while abdicating their responsibility for their own safety)
Butterfield v. Forrester
―A party is not to cast himself upon an obstruction which has been made by the fault of
another and avail himself of it, if he do not himself use common and ordinary caution to
be in the right.‖ One person being in fault will not dispense with another using ordinary
care for himself.
put pole on the rode, but P was riding horse violently so got injured.
Rule: A D will not be held liable where it is clear that a P could have taken action to avoid the
very accident that caused his/her injuries. Even if D was at fault in some way, this will
not eliminate P‘s need to exercise ordinary care.
Negligence Act (RSO 1990):
if fault or negligence is found on the part of P (contributory negligence), the court shall
apportion the damages in proportion to the degree of fault or negligence found against
the parties respectively
degree of fault or negligence of the respective parties is a question of fact for the jury
Froom v. Butcher
If either a driver or passenger P fails to wear a seatbelt and an accident occurs, and the
injuries would have been prevented or lessened if P had worn the seatbelt, P‘s damages
should be reduced. If there is an available safety device, and P did not use it, P‘s
damages will generally be dropped by 25%. Exceptions where P can show that even if
they were wearing safety device, damages would still be substantial.
Rule: if failure to wear seatbelt would have made ―all the difference‖ (damage would have been
prevented altogether) damages should be reduced by 25%
Rule: if failure to wear seatbelt would have made some difference (damage would occur but
would be less severe) damages should be reduced by 15%
Rule: D must prove on a balance of probabilities that P was contributorily negligent
VOLUNTARY ASSUMPTION OF RISK
―volenti non fit iniuria‖ (injuries do not happen to those that consent)
if P consented to the negligent act, they should not be able to recover
if consent is proven, P will get Ø damages (there is Ø apportionment)
-Consent/Volenti comprised of 2 parts: a) knowledge (cannot consent to what you do
b) agreement (can be either explicit or implicit)
Standard of knowledge: -actual and assumed knowledge
-standard is objective (b/c courts look at assumed knowledge)
the defence has been reduced significantly…courts will usually find a way to move the
defence out of consent/volenti and move into contributory negligence where damages are
More than simply knowing of risk, is fact is knowing the risk, accepted risk and
independently gave up legal rights overtly.
Lambert v. Lastoplex (SCC) (flammable sealant)
knowing the physical risk involved does not mean an acceptance of the legal risk.
higher knowledge on the part of the P is not relevant
D‘s warnings were not sufficient in light of the custom of the industry
important to remember that if finding that there was consent, P would get Ø
Dube v. Labar (SCC)
Volenti defence requires not merely P‘s knowledge of a risk, but his or her express or
necessarily implied acceptance of the risk of harm, knowing of its virtual certainty, without
recourse to the law.
Volenti defence must have express or implied bargain b/w parties whereby P gave up rights
of action for negligence (legal recourse).
there must also be an understanding by both parties that D assumed no responsibility to take
care for P‘s safety, and that P did not expect this.
Priestly v. Gilbert
Where P and D set out on a ―joint venture‖ in which P knew or should have know would
endanger life and limb, P will have voluntarily accepted the risk of personal injury
o Ex. Drinking together
Court wants to scale back illegality defence. Therefore limit it to:
1) do not allow P to profit from their own wrongs
2) do not want to damage the integrity of the legal system
Hall v. Hebert (SCC)
RULE: recovery in tort should only be barred due to P‘s immoral or illegal conduct in
limited circumstances, like if he would profit through a direct pecuniary award from
illegal or wrongful conduct
as a general rule, the illegality principle will not operate to deny damages for
personal injury, since torts are generally based on claims for compensation and P
will not seek damages as a profit for illegal/immoral acts
Contribution-refers to the power of the defendant to call upon other tortfeasors to bear their
share of the damages.
-defendants must first be found liable in tort before any contribution is assessed.
Negligence Act, RSO 1990:
where damages have been caused/contributed by the fault/neglect of two or more
persons, the court shall determine the degree in which each of such persons is at
tortfeasor may recover contribution from any other tortfeasor who is, or would if
sued have been, liable in respect of the damage to any person suffering damage as a
result of a tort
Justification for Contribution: if D1 and D2 each contribute to P‘s loss, it would be
unfair that D1 should have to satisfy all the loss simply
b/c P chooses to sue only D1, and thus D2 escape
principle of contribution is reflection of the notion of
County of Parkland No. 31 v. Stetar (SCC)
Where a person who is alleged to be a tortfeasor has been sued and has been held not
liable, this tortfeasor cannot be sued for contribution by another tortfeasor that was held
Fitzgerald v. Lane (HL)
-first, judge must determine whether the plaintiff has established liability against one or other or
all the defendants, i.e, that they were negligent (or in breach of statutory duty), and that that
negligence caused or materially contributed to injuries
-once liability has been established, must assess the total damages the plaintiff has sustained.
once these 2 decisions have been made must determine whether plaintiff has contributed to the
--must assess the extent to which it is just and equitable to reduce the damages which
would otherwise be recoverable by the plaintiff, having regard to his ―share in the
responsibility for the damage.‖
THE ROLE OF STATUTES
The Queen in Right of Canada v. Saskatchewan Wheat (SCC)
1. Civil consequences of breach of statute should be subsumed under the law of
2. The notion of a separate tort of statutory breach giving right to recovery merely on
proof of the breach should be rejected. Idea that unexcused breach constitutes negligence
giving rise to absolute liability should also be rejected.
3. Proof of statutory breach, causative of damages (causation), may be evidence of
4. The statutory formulation of the duty may afford a specific, and useful, standard of
Board of Governors of Seneca College of Applied Art and Technology
v. Bhadauria (SCC)
RULE: Where a statute creates an independent enforcement mechanism(s) for a violation of the
statute, there will be no independent tort action available for breach of statute
i.e., Human Rights Code
Candler v. Crane Christmas & Co.
negligent misrepresentation made by a director to potential subscribers for shares, on which
some of them act to their detriment, affords the latter no remedy.
Special problem of statements: ―indeterminate time, indeterminate amount,
Hedley Byrn & Co. Ltd. v. Heller (HL)
the circumstances may have given rise to a duty of care owed by the defendant to HB, but its
disclaimer of responsibility for its reply excluded the assumption of this duty.
TEST: To recover for negligent statements causing pure economic loss, require:
(a) Special relationship b/w parties
- predicated on - D has special knowledge - in professional setting – intending for it to be
(b) Reasonable Reliance: it must be reasonable for p to rely on d‘s stmt – that D should have
known the P would rely on statement. (here, d not liable due to disclaimer)
-The new rule: there is liability w/ 2 requirements:
(1) intent of the advice – it must be given in a professional context and intended to be relied
(2) it must be reasonable for the plaintiff to rely on the advice
-only people in the professional field should be relied upon and are liable for their advice.
-the categories of special relationships which may give rise to duty of care, in words as well as in
writing, are not limited to contractual or fiduciary relationships but also include relationships
―equivalent to contract‖, where responsibility is assumed in circumstances which, but for the
absence of consideration, would be a contract.
-duty arises only if the person giving advice was one of skill and judgment (for Donoghue, skill
and judgment only enter when determining standard of care and not duty of care).
-there is an imposed duty of care for negligent misstatements and pure economic loss when:
(a) there is a special relationship b/w parties,
(b) there is voluntary assumption of risk by D, and it must be reasonable for P to rely on
D‘s statement (here, D not liable due to disclaimer).
Queen v. Cognos (SCC)
-waived the ―expertise rule‖ of Hedley Byrne
five general requirements for a successful claim by a P:
(1) there must be duty of care based on special relationships b/w representor & representee;
(2) the representation in question must be untrue, inaccurate, or misleading;
(3) the representor must have acted negligently in making said misrepresentation;
(4) the representee must have relied, in reasonable manner, on said negligent
(5) the reliance must have been detrimental to the representee in the sense that damages
Haig v. Bramford (SCC)
EXTENT OF DUTY
3 options to catalogue class of persons
1) Foreseeability of someone using information
2) Actual knowledge of limited class of people using information - * Here 2 is used
3) Actual knowledge of exact person using information
General Rule: to owe a duty of care, must have knowledge of the limited class who will use
and rely on the given info, not the particular individual who is relying on it.
Widens catch of reliant persons to unknown persons
accountants were aware that the client‘s company intended to supply the statement to a very
limited class, of which p was a member, and it was irrelevant that accountants did not know
accountants owed p a duty to use reasonable care in the preparation of the stmt - p placed
justifiable reliance upon the stmt.
- QUALIFIES THE LIMITED CLASS USING THE INFORMATION; REASONABLE
KNOWLEDGE OF LIMITED CLASS, NOT PARTICULAR PERSON
- LIKE D v. S, THAT KNOW SOMEONE WILL USE IT, NOT THE PARTICULAR PERSON
Caparo Industries v. Dickman (HL)
RULE: Duty of care is not owed to potential investors, since there‘s not sufficient reliance; these
potential investors are supposed to do their own research in addition to the info. taken from the
Hercules Management Ltd. v. Ernst & Young
2-stage TEST to establish duty of care re: negligent statements:
-use ANNS TEST/COOPER
1) Proximity: i) Special Relationship - the D ought reasonably to foresee that the P will rely
on his representation, and
ii) Reasonable Reliance- reliance by P would, in the particular circumstances of
the case, be reasonable
2) Policy: i) D‘s knowledge of the identity of the P or class of P
ii) type of use to which the statements are put
General points to consider:
1. Expertise and knowledge of representor
2. The seriousness of the situation.
3. Initial request for information—maybe for specific purpose, trigger in mind of person
providing info that they are prepared to give info that could be relied upon.
4. Pecuniary interest
5. Nature of the statement—statement of fact, or statement of opinion
6. Disclaimers—may accompany statement that is made, ―use it at own risk‖
7. Policy concerns—liability to an indeterminate class or # of people.
Nunes Diamond Ltd. v. Dominion Electric Protection (SCC)
RULE: fact of having a contract does not automatically prevent Hedley Byrne liability - tort and
contract can run parallel and it was reasonable for p to rely on the statement made by d‘s
BG Checo International Ltd. v. B.C. Hydro and Power Authority (SCC)
RULE: Where a given wrong prima facie supports an action in contract and in tort, P may sue in
either or in both (except where the contract specifically indicates that the parties intended to limit
or negate the right to sue in tort). To negate tort claim, there has to be an express term which
waives any tort rights (expressly states that person loses their tort rights). Merely entering
into a contract will not eliminate tort rights. Actually have to say “we expressly waive tort
rights”. This ratio is conditional on the fact that there was equal bargaining power.
Weller v. Foot and Mouth Disease Research
Case about property damage to a third party which resulted in economic losses for the
RULE: Limiting recovery for negligently caused financial harm
o A P suing in negligence for damages suffered as a result of an act or omission of
a D cannot recover if the act or omission did not directly injure, or at least
threaten directly to injure the P‘s person or property, but merely caused
Spartan Steel & Alloys Ltd. v. Martin
- actual physical damage can be recovered, but the loss of profit from the other 4 melts was
economic loss independent of the physical damage.
- Physical or direct damage: Yes
- Economic loss related to physical damage: Yes
- Loss of profit not consequential to physical damage: NO
Recovery for consequential economic loss (actual physical damages and direct
No recovery for non-consequential economic loss (pure economic loss)
In this case, there was ‗sufficient proximity‘ to entitle the P to recover its reasonable
foreseeable economic loss:
a) D‘s knowledge that the property damaged was of a kind that was likely to create economic loss
b) D‘s knowledge that P utilized the damages property (pipelines) to transport goods for purpose
c) infliction of damage by D to the property of a third party as a result of conduct in breach of a
duty of care owed to that third party
d) nature of detriment suffered by P
e) nature of damages claimed (employing alternative modes of transport)
Rule: if you damage third party property and there is a sufficiently close relationship b/w
third party and P, recovery will be allowed.
Canadian National Railway v. Norsk Pacific Steamship (SCC)
Pure economic loss allowed IF P can establish 2 things:
(1) close proximity b/w plaintiff and defendant (closer than Donoghue),
i. one indicator of this proximity will be damage to property even if it
is to a 3rd party.
ii. proximity is a necessary but not necessarily sufficient condition of
(2) negligence and foreseeable loss.
if the relationship with the third party is so proximate, foreseeable and direct, the P will
recover pure economic loss based on physical damage to third party property
Winnipeg Condominium Corp. No. 36 v. Bird Construction (SCC)
GENERAL RULE: cannot recover for pure economic loss (it is the production of
defective property, not the damage of property)
Exception (as here): Danger: if it likely to cause injury or there is a threat to injury, then
one can recover b/c better to prevent injuries. Contractors who take part in the design
and construction of a building will owe a duty in tort to subsequent purchasers of the
building if it can be shown that it was foreseeable that a failure to take reasonable care
would create defects that pose a substantial danger to the health and safety of the
- thus, reasonable costs of repairing the defects and putting the building back into a non-
dangerous state are recoverable economic losses under the law of tort in Canada.
- If damage non-dangerous, simply cosmetically unappealing, not recoverable.
Rule: P can recover for pure economic loss if it is a threat to safety of others
White v. Jones (HL)
A solicitor who undertakes to perform professional services for his client may be liable to
his client for failure to exercise due care and skill in relation to the performance of those
services not only in contract, but also in negligence (tort), under the principle in Hedley
Byrne. This liability is based on the assumption of responsibility by the solicitor
towards his client
‗special circumstances‘ giving rise to a reliance by the beneficiaries are required for
action against the D --- ‗special circumstances‘ in this case are that the testator would
have Ø claim b/c he was dead when any claim could be made
INTENTIONAL TORTS AND INFORMED CONSENT
―Every human being of adult years and sound mind has a right to determine what shall be done
with his own body.‖ (Pg. 513)
Malette v. Shulman (Jahova‟s witness/doctor)
RULE: when people have freedom to make decisions about themselves and their bodies, they are
entitled to make ‗bad‘ decisions --- reasonableness is NOT applied in these situations
The Doctrine of Informed Consent protects a patient‘s right to control his/her own
medical treatment. No medical procedure can be undertaken unless the patient is
provided with sufficient information, and expressly consents. Even in cases where the
procedure is for the patient‘s benefit, a doctor will be liable for battery if he engages in
the procedure without consent.
EXCEPTION: to the Doctrine of Informed Consent is the ―Emergency Situation‖,
where a doctor, by reason of necessity of the circumstances (i.e. patient is unconscious
and in dire need of medical attention) will not be held liable for administering treatment
in an emergency situation. This ―privilege‖ to administer treatment without consent in
an emergency arises when (a) patient is unconscious and there is Ø substitute decision-
maker, (b) time is of the essence, (c) under the circumstances a reasonable person and
the patient would consent.
Non-Marine Underwriters, Lloyd’s of London v. Scalera (SCC) (bus driver
If the defendant does not dispute that the contact took place, he bears the burden of
proving that the plaintiff consented or that a reasonable person in his position would have
thought that she consented.
OBJECTIVE TEST: to establish sexual battery, the plaintiff must demonstrate that a reasonable
person would have known that the plaintiff did not validly consent to sexual relations.
simple allegation of non-consensual sex will suffice to meet this initial burden.
To succeed in an action for intentional battery, one must prove both that:
o The defendant intended to do the action
o The reasonable person would have perceived that action as being harmful or
In sexual battery, the trier of fact must be satisfied that the defendant
intended to engage in sexual activity which a reasonable person should
have perceived to be non-consensual.
to prove civil tort of sexual battery, only need to prove on a balance of
probabilities that the defendant knew or ought to have known that the
plaintiff did not consent.
Norberg v. Wynrib (SCC) (sex with doctor for drugs)
TEST: whether there is legally effective consent in cases of sexual assault:
Consent will be deemed ―unconscionable‖ where:
1) Proof of an inequality b/w the parties (will ordinarily occur within the context of a
special ‗power dependency‘ relationship)
2) Proof of exploitation
consent must be voluntary
―a man cannot be said to be ‗willing‘ unless he is in a position to choose freely; and
freedom of choice predicates the absence from his mind of any feeling of constraint
interfering with the freedom of his will.
o Must appreciate power relationships and ―justice factors‖
undue influence, duress, and unconscionability
The essence of a fiduciary relationship is that one party exercises power on behalf of
another and pledges themselves to act in the best interest of the other.
Re Eve (SCC) (sterilization of retard)
DOCTRIN OF PARENS PATRIAE:
provides that the state is empowered to make decisions in the best interests of those who
are mentally incompetent
the decisions made must be used to do ―what is necessary for the protection of the person
for whose benefit it is exercised‖
non-therapeutic sterilizations (b/c of their seriousness and finality) should never be
authorized under the parens patriae jurisdiction
Reibl v. Hughes (SCC)
-as per Farrell v. Snell
Test: P must show a substantial connection b/w their injuries and Ds negligent act
Doctors must inform their patients of:
1) Material risks-unusual and everyday occurrences, those that are significant risks that pose
a real threat to the patient‘s life, health, or comfort.
2) Extent of risks
3) Consequences of those risks
4) Extent of risk of not having procedure
MATERIAL RISKS = OBJECTIVE TEST = WOULD A R.PERSON THINK THESE ARE
Causation Test--MODIFIED OBJECTIVE TEST: Standard must be developed to determine
whether the patient would have decided against the treatment had he been informed of its risks.
whether the average prudent person in plaintiff‘s position, informed of all material
risks, would have foregone treatment.
what a reasonable person in the patient’s position have done if there had been
proper disclosure of attendant risks
CAUSATION IS THE LAST DEFENSE OF THE D IF FAILED ANY OF 4 TESTS
Hollis v. Dow Corning Corp. (SCC)
DUTY TO WARN:
A manufacturer of a product has a duty in tort to warn consumers of dangers inherent in
the use of its product of which it has knowledge or ought to have knowledge.
Generally duty is owed directly by the manufacturer to the ultimate consumer, EXCEPT:
LEARNED INTERMEDIARY RULE
Applicable either where a product is highly technical in nature and is intended to b used
only under the supervision of experts, or where the nature of the product is such that the
consumer will not realistically receive a direct earning from the manufacturer before
using the product.
Manufacturer can only be said to have discharged its duty to the consumer when the
intermediary‘s knowledge approximates that of the manufacturer.
-it is no defence for manufacturer to claim that even if it had informed intermediary, he would
have ignored info anyway
the common law distinguishes the wrongful infliction of harm (misfeasance) from the
mere failure to prevent harm (nonfeasance)
Crocker v. Sundance Northwest Resorts (SCC)
one is under a duty not to place another person in a position where it is foreseeable that
that person could suffer injury.
the resort‘s omission of duty to monitor the conduct of others created a risk-a special
relationship existed b/c he consumed the alcohol on their premises, and they are making
money from the venture.
RULE: One is under a duty not to place another person in a position where it is foreseeable that
that person could suffer injury. The P‘s inability to handle the situation in which he has been
placed (b/c if youth, intoxication, etc.) is an element of determining how foreseeable the injury is.
TEST re: standard of care: Relevant to relate the probability and gravity of the injury to the
burden that would be imposed upon the D in taking avoiding measures
RULE: Once it is determined that a duty of care b/w P and D exists, must determine whether the
standard of care was met
Just v. Queen in the Right of British Columbia (SCC)
there is a duty of care for the safety of individuals unless there has been a policy decision
of the execution of operations; distinguish b/w Policy and Operational decisions.
can‘t check every road for every boulder w/in budget restrictions
J. Cory-decides there is a duty of care but b/c of policy decisions liability not
imposed in light of fact the cost of liability would be astronomical.
- Check legislation; what is the public authorities‘ responsibility
- are they permitted to perform this function
- are they empowered
- are they required/exempted
exempt from duty if modified on basis of policy decision
unless a statute of care exempts liability, the government will owe a duty but the standard
of care will vary in light of all surrounding circumstances including budgetary constraints
and the availability of qualified personnel and equipment b/c budgetary matters are policy
and courts cannot go behind policy decisions.
Jane Doe v. Metropolitan Police
courts found in the Jane Doe case that the police did owe a duty of care to the discreet
group of women that was easily identified and they could have been warned accordingly.
a special relationship existed b/c small group of potential victims, easily identifiable
group to warn, and the risk could have been eliminated at a very small cost
Childs v. Desormeaux (SCC)
RULE: social host does not owe duty of care to person injured by a guest who has consumed
RULE: commercial alcohol providers do owe a duty to third party members of the public who
are inured as a result of the drunken driving of the patron
party host has neither an institutionalized method of monitoring alcohol consumption
and enforcing limits, nor a set of expectations that would permit him or her to easily do so.
-where the conduct alleged against the defendant is a failure to act, foreseeability alone may not
establish a duty of care.
-a positive duty of care may exist if foreseeability of harm is present and if other aspects of the
relationship between the plaintiff and the defendant establish a special link or proximity.
3 such situations have been identified by the courts:
1. where a defendant intentionally attracts and invites third parties to an
inherent and obvious risk that he or she has created or controls.
(Crocker v. Sundance)
2. Paternalistic relationships of supervision and control, such as those of
parent-child or teacher-student.
-->special vulnerability of plaintiff and formal position of power
of the defendants
3. Where there is a defendant who either exercise a public function or
engage in a commercial enterprise that includes implied responsibilities to the
public at large.
3 themes: risk enhancement and control, autonomy, and reasonable reliance.
Andrews & Grand & Toy (SCC)
there is no duty to mitigate damage, in the sense of being forced to accept less than
reasonable loss, but rather, the duty is to be reasonable
in tort law, compensation is sought, not retribution.
Retrospective: put person back in same position he would have been in had accident not
occurred (used in tort law).
there is a general notion that plaintiffs should mitigate losses, but when there is a choice
between a more and less expensive method of care, it must be judged on reasonableness.
to determine amt for future care must look at years he is going to live.
to determine amt for lost earnings, must look at years he would have lived.
these are losses that cannot be quantified (i.e. pain and suffering).
these types of damages should be determined with a ‗functional‘ approach, which attempts to
assess compensation req‘d to provide p with reasonable physical arrangements to make life
PUNITIVE: to punish wrongdoer and deterring both him and other from engaging in similar
conduct in the future.
Personal Injury Losses
-pecuniary losses (financial)
expenses incurred as a result of injury
past lost income
cost of care
-non-pecuniary losses (non-financial)
i)aggravated damages due to maliciousness
-pecuniary losses (financial)
diminished earning capacity
cost of care
expenses incurred as a result of injury