chapter  4
Donoghue v Stevenson in many ways cuts across the old forms of action approach to liability, as Esso v Southport (p 216) itself goes some way in showing. In introducing fault as the cause of the action, it provided the courts with an alternative way of analysing facts. Indeed, the full impact of this alternative approach to liability is still in the process of working its way through the old causes of action, as the Cambridge Water case will show (below, p 665). Yet the requirement of a duty of care has kept the fault principle closely tied to the facts. The use of the word ‘proximity in
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Reeves v Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis [1999] 3 WLR 363 House of Lords

(See p 770.)

Lord Hoffmann:… [T]here is a difference between protecting people against harm caused to them by third parties and protecting them against harm which they inflict upon themselves. It reflects the individualist philosophy of the common law. People of full age and sound understanding must look after themselves and take responsibility for their actions. This philosophy expresses itself in the fact that duties to safeguard from harm deliberately caused by others are unusual and a duty to protect a person of full understanding from causing harm to himself is very rare indeed. But, once it is admitted that this is the rare case in which such a duty is owed, it seems to me self-contradictory to say that the breach could not have been a cause of the harm because the victim caused it to himself…

Barrett v Ministry of Defence [1995] 1 WLR 1217 Court of Appeal

Beldam LJ: In these proceedings, Mrs Dawn Barrett, widow of Terence Barrett, claims damages for herself and her son Liam under the Fatal Accidents Act 1976 and for the benefit of the estate of her deceased husband under the Law Reform (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1934. She blames the defendant, the Ministry of Defence, for the death of her husband, who was serving in the Royal Navy. On 12 May 1993, Judge Phelan, sitting as a judge of the High Court in the Queen’s Bench Division, gave judgment for the plaintiff for £160,651.16. He had reduced the damages of £214,201.54 by 25%, which he held was the deceased’s share of responsibility for his death. The defendant

in this appeal challenges one of the two grounds on which the judge found it to have been in breach of duty to the deceased. It also seeks reassessment of the apportionment of liability.