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Questions 1 Is fear of inflation a good legal reason for not developing new principles of liability? Is it an economically sound reason? Will not such reasoning always act as a bar to judicial innovation? Given that inflation no longer seems a problem, is there now a case for re-establishing Lord Denning’s approach? 2 Does the present system of fault liability in traffic accidents encourage litigation? 3 Did the wife (owner) have any interest in the journey? Does a person not have an interest in the well being of his or her spouse? What if she had asked one of the group to bring her back a bottle of beer? 4 If one is strictly liable for keeping a dangerous animal or an animal with dangerous characteristics (Animals Act 1971, s 2), why is one not also liable for keeping a thing which is capable of just as much, if not more, harm? Where is the logic of having an Animals Act but not a Motor Vehicles (Compensation of Injuries) Act? 5 A pub landlord, having served many whiskies to a customer he knew was going to drive home, made no effort at closing time to stop the customer from driving his car out of the pub car park and home. If the customer killed a cyclist as a result of his drunk condition, can the customer’s insurance company, which has paid compensation to the wife of the cyclist, sue the landlord for contribution or an indemnity? 6 The case concerns the kind of traffic accident which happens every day. The young Sébastien, 12 years of age, crosses a trunk road on his bicycle just as a motorcyclist is coming along the road. The crash is inevitable. The child and the motorcyclist are injured… The young child will be compensated through the application of the law of 5 July 1985, dealing with the improvement in the situation of traffic accident victims. As far as the motorcyclist is concerned, he has to remain in the realm of the ordinary law dealing with parental liability…’ (Advocate General in Cass civ 19.2.1997; JCP 28.5.97.22848). This ‘ordinary law’ is to be found in Art 1384 of the CC: The father and mother, to the extent that they exercise the right of custody, are jointly liable for damage caused by their minor children living with them.’ Do you think the parents could escape liability by showing that they were not in any way at fault in the supervision of the young Sébastien? How would English law respond to these facts? What if the motorcyclist had been over the permitted alcohol limit?
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