Basic Law (Tort)

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Building law and contract admin

Assignment no 2 Tort

Volenti non fit injuria

Latin / voluntary assumption of risk. A defence in tort that means where a person engages in an event accepting and aware of the risks inherent in that event, then they can not later complain of, or seek compensation for an injury suffered during the event. This is used most often to defend against tort actions as a result of a sports injury

Smith v Charles baker & son 1891
Dulieu v White and son 1901
Herd v Weardale Steel and Coal 1914


From the Latin word doctrina meaning "teachings." Something taught as a the principle or creed especially in religion. A rule or principle of law established through its repeated use.

Doctrine of alternative danger

The plaintiff is supposed to be careful in spite of the defendant's negligence, there may be certain circumstances when the plaintiff is justified in taking some risk where some dangerous situation has been created by the defendant. The plaintiff might become perplexed or nervous by the dangerous situation and to save his person and property, or sometimes to save a third party from such danger, he may take an alternative risk. The law, therefore, permits the plaintiff to encounter an alternative danger to save himself from the danger created by the defendant. If the course adopted by him results in some harm to himself, his action against the defendant will not fail. The judgment of the plaintiff should not, however, be rash. The plaintiff is not only justified in taking risk for himself, he may take risks for others as well.

Jones v Boyce 1816

Thin Skull Rule

An additional exposure in tort liability towards persons who are particularly vulnerable or more fragile than the norm, who may have inherent weaknesses or a pre-existing vulnerability or condition. The tort-feasor takes his victim as he finds them he compensates for all damages he caused, even if damages are elevated compared to a norm because the plaintiff was thin skulled. The principle appears to have emanated from a 1901 English case, Dulieu v White and Sons, where it was stated “If a man is negligently run over or otherwise negligently injured in his body, it is no answer to the sufferer’s claim for damage that he would have suffered less injury, or no injury at all, if he had not had an unusually thin skull or an unusually weak heart.” For example, if a person who has physical or psychological infirmities which extend, beyond a the norm, his/her recovery from injuries resulting from another’s tort, the defendant’s damages are not discounted accordingly but, instead, are adjusted upwards to fit the "thin skulled" victim

Dulieu v White and Sons 1901

Contributory Negligence

The negligence of a person which, while not being the primary cause of a tort, nevertheless combined with the act or omission of the primary defendant to cause the tort, and without which the tort would not have occurred. Contributory negligence applies solely to the conduct of the claimant. It means that there has been some act or omission on the claimant's part which has materially contributed to the damage caused and is of such a nature that it may properly be described as negligence.

Froom v Butcher 1976
Nance v BC Electric Railway Co. 1951
Stinton v Stinton 1993

Res Ipsa Loquitur

Latin / the thing speaks for itself
Generally, in tort, the mere fact of an accident is not proof of negligence. But in some cases, negligence is presumed on the defendant since the object causing injury was in or under his or her control. This is the res ipsa loquitur doctrine. Res ipsa loquitur is a rebuttable presumption rebutted by showing that the event was an inevitable accident and had nothing to do with the defendant’s responsibility of control or supervision.Examples of res ipsa loquitur, not all of which can be assumed to apply today which illustrate the doctrine....
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