DUTY OF CARE – SOME PROBLEM AREAS
Some complex areas of case law have developed around the ‘fair, just and reasonable’ limb of the criteria stated in Caparo v Dickman, and it follows that in many of these cases the courts are restricting the development of the law on the basis that it would not, for policy reasons, be desirable to extend the ambit of the duty of care in negligence. It is possible to categorise the cases by grouping them into recognisable areas which have been identified by judges and academic writers. Many of the cases involve the liability of public bodies such as the police and local authorities. There are some situations in which it has been established that no duty of care is owed – though instances are few and the law is seldom clear-cut. Most of these decisions rest on policy considerations, and some grey areas remain. This is an area of law in which competing policy considerations lead to shifts in liability that can be unpredictable. Some changes have been introduced since the implementation of the Human Rights Act 1998 and more can be expected.