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Return to Street on Torts 15e student resources

Chapter 4 Guidance on answering the end-of-chapter problem questions

Duty of care III : property damage and purely financial loss

Denise has been given advice by Kayla. It is foreseeable that if K fails to take care in the offer of advice, that D might suffer financial loss. Although courts frequently require that the claimant prove that the defendant ‘assumed a responsibility’ to her, the reality is that they will look at ordinary proximity factors when determining whether to attribute responsibility to the defendant. Here the advice was specific and given directly to D from a person with ostensible expertise. There might have been a request for this advice. Going against that is the informal setting; statement makers might not be ‘on their guard’ in such settings: Hedley Byrne v Heller. The usual policy is to deny duties of care for advice given in informal settings. As to the claims by Jackson and D for relational financial loss, these will inevitably fail because the courts expect persons to accept the occasional loss and inconvenience caused by an accident involving public infrastructure where the claimant has no proprietary or possessory interest in it: Spartan Steel v Martin. The facts do not appear to give rise to any argument that some special exception should apply. So no duty of care will have been owed to either claimant.