Thursday, 30 June 2022

Remoteness of Damage under law of Tort

 REMOTENESS OF DAMAGE UNDER LAW OF TORT

By: Robin Pandey                                                                        Date: 09/03/2022

When a person is held liable for committing a tort the question of his liability arises. And natural justice demands that a person should be held responsible for all the consequences of his tortious act. But this kind of justice would, in ultimate analysis, unreasonably hamper human activity. It would be unjust to hold a tort feasor responsible for all consequences of his tortious act which may be endless. Accordingly, rule of law arise so that a person should not be responsible ad infinitum for endless consequences of his wrongful a Lord Wright observed: "The Law cannot take account of everything that follows a wrongful act; it regards some subsequent matters as outside ne scope of its selection, because, it were infinite of the law to judge the causes of causes' or consequences of consequences. In the varied web of a11airs the law must abstract some consequences as relevant not perhaps on of ground of pure logic but simply for practical reasons.”

Even if the plaintiff proves all the essential elements of a tort committed 28ainst him his claim will be defeated if the harm suffered by him is remote consequence of the defendant's act or omission. A person is liable for damages in law only when his wrongful conduct is directly or immediately related to the effect of his action. There is a well recognised Latin maxim in jure non remota causa sed proxima spectatur which means that law provides remedy for proximate consequences. So once it is established that the damage suffered by the plaintiff is a consequence of defendant's act or omission, the further question arises whether the consequences is remote or proximate. lf it 1s proximate the plaintiff may have a remedy. If it is remote his claim is bound to be defeated.

Intended Consequences

 It is well settled that intended consequences of the tort-feasor are always foreseeable and never too remote. It is presumed under law that a man intends the necessary and natural consequences of his act or conduct. An intentional wrong doer's liability will cover all consequences, whether striking foreseeable or not, which result from his wrongful act. The striking illustration of the extent of intentional wrongdoer's liability is furnished by the case of Scott v. Shepherd (1773), where the defendant A threw a lighted squib into a crowded market. The fiery missile came down on the shed of a vendor B of ginger bread who to protect himself caught it dexterously and threw it away from him. It then fell on the shed of another ginger bread seller C, who passed it on in precisely the same way, till at last it burst in the plaintiff D's face and put his eye out. Here strictly speaking. A cannot be said to have intended to hurt D yet he was held responsible because a man is responsible for the necessary and natural consequences of his conduct.

It is an application of the same or similar principle that in an action to deceit, which is an intentional tort, the tort-feasor is liable for all actua damage, whether foreseeable or not, which directly flows from the fraudulent act. This principle was approved by the House of Lords in Smith Securities Ltd. v. Vickers, (1996). It was held that in an action for dece the plaintiff is not restricted to the difference between real value of the subject matter on the date of sale and the price paid by him for the asset acquired by to all consequential loss from the misrepresentation which induced the plaint to retain the asset or in other words the plaintiff was by reason of the frau locked into the property.

Unintended Consequences 

Where the consequences are unintended, it is relevant to consider the question of remoteness of consequences. It is generally agreed that the consequence is too remote if it is due to nova causa interveniens or if it follows a break in the chain in the causation. There may be a break in the chain of causation due to the following: 

(i) Where a natural event intervenes.

 (ii) Where there is an intervening act of a third party (i.e. nova causa interveniens). (iii) Where there is intervening act by the plaintiff himself.

(iii) Where there is intervening act by the plaintiff himself.


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