Key Case Law Focus: Negligence - Robinson v Chief Constable of West Yorkshire (2018)
What happened in the key case of Robinson v Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police (2018), how did this change the law on negligence, and how should this be used in exam answers...
Duty of Care in Negligence
In negligence, we are all aware that there must be a duty of care established towards the claimant by the defendant, the defendant must then breach this, and from this reasonably foreseeable damage must occur.
Until 2018, the 3 part ‘test’ established in the case of Caparo v Dickman (1990) was used to establish a duty of care, however the Supreme Court case of Robinson v Chief Constable of West Yorkshire changed the landscape on this. This case stated that the ruling in the case of Caparo v Dickman has been misunderstood for over 30 years, as it was never supposed to create a tri-parte test to establish where a duty of care was owed. Rather, there should be a return to the traditional analogical approach seen in the case of Donoghue v Stevenson (1932) where to establish a duty of care, established principles and situations were considered. Thus, Donoghue v Stevenson established that there is a duty of care between manufacturers and end consumers and for any cases such as this there is no need to go through the three-part Caparo v Dickman test. This allows the law to develop incrementally case by case, respecting precedent and providing consistency in the law. The principles established in the Caparo v Dickman case would now only be required where the facts of the case was one of a novel (new) duty situation, and even then, a ‘three-part test’ would not be required, but instead these factors can be considered as an incremental approach for establishing whether a duty of care should exist between the claimant and the defendant.
The case of Robinson concerned a claim made against the police by a member of the public who was injured when the police made an arrest of a third party. Originally it was seen that the police were immune from prosecution. At the Court of Appeal, applying the three part Caparo v Dickman test it was seen that a duty of care could not be established, as the third part of the test would not be successful, for it would not be fair just and reasonable to impose a duty of care on the police. However, in a subsequent case (Michael v Chief Constable of South Wales Police 2015) concerning a similar claim there were questions raised about the correct application of the Caparo v Dickman test to establish a duty of care. Leading the way for a further appeal in the Robinson case this then saw at the Supreme Court that this had been applied incorrectly and where there is known to be an established duty of care, previous precedent can be used to support this, without the need to go through the Caparo v Dickman test.
How is this used in A-Level and BTEC Law answers?
In negligence, following the case of Robinson, the three part Caparo v Dickman test should only be used for novel cases, as where there is an established duty of care existing precedent should be used e.g. Nettleship v Weston (1971) shows there is a duty of care between road users, Whitehouse v Jordan (1981) shows there is a duty of care between doctors and their patients and Walker v Northumberland CC (1995) demonstrates that employers owe a duty of care to their employees. Legislation also establishes duty situations including the Road Traffic Act 1988 for road users and the Food Safety Act 1990 for consumers and food businesses.
Student Task 1
Make a list of all the situations you can think of where there is an established duty of care with a supporting authority (case or statute law)
e.g. doctors and patients -Whitehouse v Jordan (1981)
Student Task 2
Do you think it is advantageous that previous precedents can be used to support the idea of a duty of care you and that there is no requirement to apply the 3 part test seen in Caparo v Dickman to establish a duty of care?
Further reading and case video (including how to apply the law in your exams) can be found here:
Key Case | Robinson v Chief Constable of West Yorkshire (2018) | Negligence - Duty of Care | Law | tutor2u https://www.tutor2u.net/law/re...
Watch and play along to our revision blast on negligence here - A-Level Law Revision Blast | Tort Law - Negligence | tutor2u https://www.tutor2u.net/live/a...