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Liability for ProductsEnglish Law, French Law, and European Harmonization$
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Simon Whittaker

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780198256137

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198256137.001.0001

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The Tort of Negligence, its Adjudication and its Satellites

The Tort of Negligence, its Adjudication and its Satellites

(p.179) 9 The Tort of Negligence, its Adjudication and its Satellites
Liability for Products


Oxford University Press

Much of the English textbook discussions on the tort of negligence concern the ambit of the duty of care, and rightly given the size and complexity of the case law and its juristic as well as its practical interest. But as regards liability for physical harm caused by action or activity, it is the significance and assessment of the breach of duty or ‘negligence issue’ that is really interesting, for with certain notable exceptions, the courts do recognise the existence of a duty of care covering a defendant’s positive action which causes physical harm. What this leaves for our purposes are the difficult areas of liability for pure economic loss in relation to products and the liability of public bodies or others for failing to intervene in the interests of the claimant’s safety, or for failure in their exercise of powers of regulation or control over safety. This chapter explores English law’s treatment of the ‘negligence’ issue, first, because the apparently broad and unified scheme of the tort of negligence hides a varied and complex treatment of what is actually required of the defendant in relation to the safety of products according to the particular context; and second, because its analysis of and process of deciding the issue of negligence contrasts sharply with French law’s treatment of la faute, vice, or défaut. Having done so, it turns to two satellite liabilities of negligence: liability for breach of statutory duty and in public nuisance.

Keywords:   English law, negligence, liability, statutory duty, public nuisance

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