How to Determine Breach of Duty of Care
To determine breach of duty of care, the court would use an objective test; that is, what a ‘reasonable man’ would do. Alderson B in Blyth v. Birmingham Waterworks Company, defined a reasonable man.
Did he owe a duty of care? Was there a breach of duty?
“That negligence is the omission to do what a reasonable man guided upon close consideration, that ordinarily regulates the conduct of human affairs would do, or doing what a reasonable man would do.”
– The court has come to a conclusion that a defendant having breached a duty of care puts certain factors into consideration.
Such factors are:
i) The likelihood of the harm; if he created a likelihood that the conduct of the defendant would cause harm, the greater the precaution he is expected to take. See Bolton v. Stone, in this case, there was no liability as the likelihood of harm as low. See also Hilder v. Associated Portland Cement Company
ii) Seriousness of the injury that is risked: the gravity of the consequences of the injury if that injury would have occurred is always in the mind of the court when coming to a decision when there is a breach of duty. See Paris v. Stepney Borough Council.
iii) Importance or the utility of the defendant’s activity: if the activity of the defendant in question is of great social value, he would be entitled to take some actions which are not ordinarily justifiable. See Watt v. Hertfordshire County Council. See also Beim v. Goyer.
iv) The cost and practicability of measures to avoid the harm: If the cost is impracticable /unreasonable for the defendant, to avoid the risk then the defendant will escape liability.