Martin Lee @ Sg
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Law of Tort and Duty of Care

I’m no lawyer but thought it might be interesting to discuss about the Law of Tort to highlight the legal responsibilities of professionals.

When a person’s civil rights have been infringed by the actions or conduct of another person, the innocent party can take legal action (law of tort) against the other for the wrong done to him.

In order to succeed in a claim of negligence in tort, the innocent party must show that the wrongdoer owed a duty of care to him and there was a breach in this duty of care resulting in a loss or damage. He can then be awarded monetary compensation for the damage done to him.

For example, if you intentionally set fire to your garden and the fire spreads to your neighbour’s house, you might be liable if it can be shown that your neighbour’s house is in close physical proximity to your house.

A duty of care is established if the relationship between the two parties is such that a reasonable person in the wrongdoer’s position could reasonably foresee that his actions would result in damage or injury to the innocent party. The courts do not require anything more than reasonable precautions to be exercised by a person.

When there is a special relationship (eg accountants, tax planners, financial advisers) between the parties, the duty of care required is increased.

Tort of Negligent Misstatement

If a person knows another person relies on his judgement and skill in matters, he can be liable if he negligently makes a statement that causes the innocent party to suffer loss or damage.

This claim in tort can be useful if there is no contract signed between the two parties.

In cases where claims can be bought against the wrongdoer in both contract and tort, the innocent party can only claim damages from either one of them.

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