Law of Torts - Causation In Law

Remoteness of Damages

Even P had proved that D owes Duty of Care and D Breach of Duty and cause the damage, P must proved that whether the damage suffered by him is one which is recoverable in negligence. There are limit placed by law as to what extent P can recover in negligence. This is known as remoteness of damage.

Originally the test was laid down under The Rule of Re Polemis (1921) ie D is liable if the damage was the direct consequence of his negligence although it could not had been foreseen.

The Wagon Mound I (1961) PC

The damage must have been reasonable foreseeable consequences. (Followed by Malaysian Court)

Once P established that a particular kind of damage is foreseeable it is enough. It doesn’t matter whether the extend of the injury or its manner how it occur is foreseeable or not.

Hughes v Lord Advocate - - But this rule was not followed in Doughty v Turner Mfg. (Both must have been foreseen)

Extensive Damage

As long as the type of damage is foreseen, it does not matter that its severity could not have been foreseen.

Bradford v Robinson - - rentals (frostbite) was unforeseen but the exposure are foreseen may cause injury. D was held liable.

Egg Shell Skull Rule and Thin Skull Rule

The defendant must take his victim as he finds him.

Smith v Leech Brain Co. - - lips burn due to D’s negligence. Subsequence cause was cancer and died. D was held liable.

Please also refer to the case of Robinson v Post Office


The initial damage inflicted by D may aggravate P due to his financial disability. Whether P can claim or not.

The Liesbosch - - it was held not claimable because it is too remote and unforeseen. The law does not cover to that extend.

Dodd Properties (Kent) Ltd v Canterbury City Council - - The court allow claim from date of trial and not from date of damage because of it is foreseeable.

Suicide Cases

If P could not stand initial injury and commit suicide, D still liable.

Please refer to the case of Kirkham v Chief Const. of Greater Manchester Police

Novus Actus Interveniens

Damage occurring after novus actus interveniens is regarded as too remote. Chain of causation breaks. There are three (3) types:

Intervening Act of Plaintiff

If the conduct of P has amounted to a novus actus interveniens then D is not liable.

Mc Kew v Holland & Hannen & Cubitts - - unreasonable act of P putting himself under emergency which cause him injury. D is not liable.

Wieland v Cyril Lord Carpet - - the second injury was foreseen as result of first injury. Not novus actus. D liable.

If P and D contributed to P’s injury then contributory negligence.

Intervening Act by Third Party

Ground where defendant’s negligence was followed by the act of third party causing further damage to P then D is not liable if he can prove that the intervening act caused by third party.

If D’s negligence is reasonably foreseeable that it may cause the third party to act negligently the D is liable. Please refer to the case of Stansbie v Troman and Home Office v Dorset Yatch.

But in the case of Lamb v London Borough of Camden gave alternative view. If damage is unforeseen consequences of D’s negligence then D is not liable.

Novus Actus Due to Natural Event

D not liable

Please refer to the case of Carslogie Steamship v Royal Norwegian Govt.
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