Gemma Turton, ‘Risk and the damage requirement in negligence liability’

Applying the Fairchild exception in Barker, Lord Hoffmann sought to justify apportionment of liability by reformulating the gist of the negligence action as the risk of mesothelioma rather than the mesothelioma itself. This paper examines the notion of risk to show that it cannot coherently be recognised as damage. By distinguishing risk from the related concept of probability, it is apparent that risk is a forward‐looking concept that is incompatible with the role in which it is cast in the backward‐looking causation inquiry when mesothelioma is an essential ingredient of liability. This paper goes on to consider whether ‘pure’ risk could form the gist of a negligence action and suggests that it lacks the moral significance to constitute damage. Furthermore, the damage requirement would be subsumed into the breach inquiry, effectively being lost as a distinct element of the negligence inquiry. This is incompatible with the traditional loss‐based model of negligence.

Gemma Turton, ‘Risk and the damage requirement in negligence liability’. Legal Studies (2014), first published online: 19 February 2014, DOI: 10.1111/lest.12043.

First posted 2014-02-20 07:12:01

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