Actionable Duty of Care

March 12th, 2020 by James Goudie KC

In Husson v SSHD (2020) EWCA Civ 329 Simler LJ stated, at paragraph 42, that:-

(1) The question whether the law imposes a tortious duty of care in respect of the exercise of statutory powers or the performance of statutory duties by a public authority is “notoriously difficult”;

(2) No single principle has been found capable of being formulated as applicable in all cases;

(3) An “intense focus” on (i) the particular facts and (ii) the particular statutory background is required: Gorringe v Calderdale MBC (2004) 1 WLR 1057 (House of Lords).

At paragraph 46, Simler LJ added that whether or not the public authority voluntarily “assumed responsibility” has been regarded in a number of cases as “critical” to the question whether a duty of care is owed.  Simler LJ, at paragraph 47, referred to the consideration in Poole BC v GN (2019) UKSC 25 of the width of the principle of voluntary assumption of risk.

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