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Tort Law


Tort is a civil wrong for which the law provides a remedy in the form of damages. Not every wrong leads to legal responsibility. It is the law of non-criminal wrongs. The term derives from the Latin word tortus meaning ‘tangled’ then transposed into the French meaning 'wrong'.


There are two parties involved: The Defendant, i.e. tortfeasor (who causes the wrongful act) and the Claimant, i.e. the wronged party (who sustains the injury and is allowed by law to recover the loss). The wrong may be intentional or accidental and it may come from different circumstances where a general duty recognised by law is breached: i.e. a cricket ball breaks the window of a house; a pedestrian is injured by a car; or a newspaper publishes libellous details of the private life of a model.


Tort Law is one of the seven core subjects that the Law Society and the Bar Council deem essential in a qualifying law degree. Therefore, it is vital that a student successfully pass this subject to become a lawyer.


Additionally, having knowledge and understanding of Tort Law principles is needed in order to study other law subjects such as Professional Negligence, Employment Law, Commercial, and even if you are studying subjects outside law like a Masters in Business Administration.


Product liability is usually regulated by contract law. Nevertheless, there are circumstances in which a manufacturer may be held liable towards the ultimate customer despite the presence of a contract. The leading case in this manner is Donoghue v Stevenson [1932] AC 562, which establishes liability for defective products under tort law.


A claim in the contract might be preferable. Nevertheless, where there is no contract, the Claimant has no right to sue the manufacturer due to the privity rules, but he may sue for defective products in tort. The law of tort is not subjected to the privity rule. There are two possible actions available for tortious liability for defective products: one in common law and the one under the Consumer Protection Act 1987.

General Principle: The ultimate consumer may sue the manufacturer for a defective product because the final consumer is owed a  duty of care. 












Donoghue v Stevenson [1932] AC 562   


Facts: Two friends went to a Café, and one of the two bought a bottle of ginger beer and ice cream float. Part of the drink was poured over the ice cream that Mrs Donoghue consumed. The rest was poured into a glass by the friend who bought the beer. A decomposed snail came out of the bottle. Mrs Donoghue sued the manufacturer of the beer for shock and gastroenteritis. The problem in law was that she did not have a contract with the seller, so she had to bring an action through the law of tort. 


Ratio: Neighbour principle test: “You must love your neighbour. You must take reasonable care to avoid acts or omissions which you can reasonably foresee would be likely to injure your neighbour”. Your neighbour is someone “closely and directly affected by my act that I ought reasonably to have in contemplation as being so affected” (Lord Atkin).


“The decision in that case [Donoghue v Stevenson] did not depend on the bottle being stoppered and sealed; the essential point in this regard was that the article should reach the consumer or user subject to the same defect as it had when it left the manufacturer.”

Application: The manufacturer owed a duty of care to the ultimate consumer. The absence of a contract between the parties did not exclude the presence of duty of care.


Is negligence a tort?

A tort is a civil wrong that results in injury or harm and can be either intentional or unintentional. Negligence is a form of tort that happens when someone doesn't use reasonable caution to prevent harming other people. Negligence can result from many different kinds of careless behaviour, such as texting while driving or failing to repair a hazardous step. If Negligence is the cause of an accident, the injured party may be able to file a lawsuit against the negligent party. The plaintiff must demonstrate that the defendant owed a duty of care, that this obligation was broken, and that the plaintiff was hurt as a result in order for their negligence claim to be successful. The plaintiff may also be able to receive compensation for any injuries if each of these criteria is met.

What purpose does tort law serve? 

Tort law's primary goal is to offer victims of civil injustices relief. This field of law includes a broad range of potential claims, such as defamation, property damage, and personal harm. In order for a plaintiff to prevail in a tort claim, they often need to demonstrate that the defendant owed them a duty of care, that obligation was broken, and that the weeping damages as a result. While monetary damages are the most common form of relief in tort cases, sometimes injunctive relief or punitive damages may also be available. The goal of tort law is to make victims whole again and to deter future misconduct by holding wrongdoers accountable for their actions.

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