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Tort law

Monday 15 May 2017: 10.00 – 13.15

Candidates will have THREE HOURS AND FIFTEEN MINUTES in which to

answer the questions.

Candidates must answer the COMPULSORY question in PART A and THREE

from the EIGHT questions in PART B.

Candidates must answer all parts of a question unless otherwise stated.

Permitted materials

© University of London 2017

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Candidates must answer this COMPULSORY question about the article N J

McBride, ‘Michael and the future of tort law’ (2016) 32(1) Journal of Professional

1. (a) What do you understand to be the distinction between what the

author describes as the “uniform” and “policy” approach to
determining whether a public body owes a duty of care to an
individual harmed by a third party?

(b) Why does the author claim that the basis of the decision in the
House of Lords case of Hill v Chief Constable of West Yorkshire
(1988) has been misunderstood in subsequent cases and in
academic case commentary?

(c) Why do you think the UKSC struck out the claim in the case of
Michael insofar as it related to the common law of negligence but
allowed the claim under Article 2 of the ECHR to proceed?

(d) What do you consider to be the author’s primary contribution to

our understanding of the duty of care concept in this article?

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Candidates must answer THREE questions in this section.

2. Tessa and Sasha are identical twin sisters, aged 28. As well as looking
exactly alike, they dress and act alike. They went to the same school
and studied at the same university. Only their career paths differed:
Tessa is a journalist, covering celebrity news on a well-known daily
newspaper and Sasha works as an academic in a University law school.
The sisters approach you for advice in relation to three issues:

(a) One of Sasha’s colleagues published a highly condemnatory

article in an academic journal about the falling standards in Law
Schools. In the article he states that Sasha has “neglected the
library for the embarrassing pursuit of the company of celebrities”.
This comment was based on a number of newspaper and
television reports in which Tessa was featured. The author of the
academic article had mistaken Sasha for Tessa.

(b) Tessa published pictures on her personal internet blog of a

person she thought was the high profile model, Denz, entering a
drug rehabilitation centre. In fact, the person she thought was
Denz was employed as a cleaner at the centre and bore only a
superficial resemblance to Denz.

(c) Tessa’s newspaper published her widely read and damning

article about high expense claims made by senior executives
employed at the Cosby Housing Department. It appears that the
claims are without foundation. Uriah, one of the senior executives
at Crosby Housing Department, is very annoyed about this and it
has caused him serious embarrassment.

Discuss the issues arising, taking into account any defences that might
be advanced.

3. “The operation of the Occupiers’ Liability Acts of 1957 and 1984 depends
on the claimant being able to establish a breach to the occupiers’ duty
of care.”


4. “There is little justification for the distinction drawn between primary and
secondary victims of nervous shock.”


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5. Liam has been employed as a physical education teacher for 30 years
at the same school, Perfect Academy. He has always taught pupils
between the ages of 13 and 16. Liam was dismissed from his
employment a year ago and has since been unable to secure
employment as a teacher.

The circumstances of his dismissal related to an accusation from a 13

year-old-boy, Kym, that Liam had punched him during a football training
session. A formal investigation was conducted by an independent
Human Resources consultant, Diego. The report concluded that Liam
had punched the boy, despite Liam’s repeated denials. On the basis of
the report, the head teacher dismissed Liam. Errors and inaccuracies in
the investigation report have since come to light. The report claimed that
the investigator had interviewed Kym, but this was found to be
impossible since Kym was out of the country and not contactable at the
time at which the interview was stated to have taken place. Further, two
pupil witnesses present at the time of the alleged assault, who could
have supported Liam’s account, were not interviewed.

Liam, who had just reached the early retirement threshold of 55 when he
was dismissed, invested 50% of his entire pension in Doonot Industries,
after scrutinising the audited accounts produced by Matt of ABC
Accountants. Significant errors were found in the audited accounts and
Liam lost his entire investment.

Advise Liam on whether he can recover his financial losses in the tort of

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6. Jenny decided to celebrate her 40th birthday by, for the first time in her
life, joining a local gym, Step Up. The practice in Step Up is to devote
the first session – of one hour duration – to a health check-up, including
heart and blood pressure checks – and a session with one of the
personal trainers, who would demonstrate the equipment and draw up
an exercise routine to suit the gym member.

Jenny was assigned to Magdela, a personal trainer of 15 years’

experience at a number of well-known gyms. Magdela failed to read up
on the Step Up protocols and so did not conduct the health check. In her
defence, Magdela claimed that gyms do not usually conduct health
checks and, therefore, even if she had known of the Step Up
requirements, she would not have considered it necessary to carry out
the health checks.

All seemed to be going well until Jenny suffered agonising pain as a

result of a twisted muscle, caused by pulling onto a weight too quickly
and without engaging the correct posture. Jenny was taken to hospital
where she also developed chest pains. Within an hour of her arrival at
the accident and emergency department of Toddington Hospital, Jenny
went into cardiac arrest (heart attack). It transpired that Jenny had a
heart problem which would have been revealed if the health checks had
been performed.

Saviour, the junior doctor in charge, was so anxious to deal with the
cardiac arrest that he completely forgot to deal with the muscle strain
problem. Unfortunately, the muscle injury was more serious than had
been thought and Jenny is now permanently disabled.

Advise Jenny to her rights and liabilities in the tort of negligence.

7. Evaluate the approach of the courts in resolving conflict over competing

uses of land in private nuisance.

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8. Jo is a senior consultant in Easyjobs, a recruitment consultancy. All
senior consultants have sole occupancy offices and Jo was lucky to have
secured a large office on the ground floor, leading into a large paved
courtyard. Easyjobs had a strict policy against its consultants bringing
‘guests’ into offices. Jo had arranged a meeting with one of the firm’s
most lucrative clients, David, who had flown over from New York
especially for the meeting at which it was expected that Jo would secure
a one million pound contract. Unfortunately, Jo’s dog sitter was unwell
on the day in question and Jo was unable to find anyone to care for her
dog (Bob) whose aggressive behaviour demanded close attention. At
her wits end, Jo decided to bring Bob into the office, with the intention of
keeping him in the paved area during her meeting with David. The
meeting was progressing very well indeed when David caught a glimpse
of Bob. Being very fond of dogs, David rushed to the patio door and
opened it, whereupon Bob leapt on to David, pushing him over toward a
heavy glass table on which he struck his head and died instantly.

Advise David’s Estate in respect of a claim against Easyjobs.

9. Two years ago, while crossing at a pedestrian crossing, Vijay suffered

serious head injuries after he was knocked down by a learner driver,
Mick. Mick, who was on his very first driving lesson, panicked when
approaching the red light at the pedestrian crossing and failed to stop.
Vijay’s physical symptoms quickly healed but he suffered a startling
change of personality – transforming from a mild mannered individual
into a very aggressive character, who was always getting into fights at
pubs and various sporting events. Following one serious incident when
he caused grievous bodily harm to Norma, a waitress who refused to
serve Vijay after he swore at her, Vijay was imprisoned for 10 months.
Vijay was housed in a cell with Trent, who had been imprisoned for a
similar term for racially motivated assaults. As a result of Trent’s
constant racial taunts, Vijay suffered severe anxiety and depression.
The prison authorities knew of the problems but were experimenting with
a new practice in which they attempted to address racism through forcing
prisoners such as Vijay and Trent to live in close intimacy. Unable to
cope, Vijay attempted to hang himself with the prison bed sheets. He
was rescued but is now so severely brain damaged that he requires 24-
hour nursing care.

Discuss the issues arising.


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