The Legal Implications of Duty of Care (Published)
It is not for every careless act that a man may be held responsible in law, nor even for every careless act that causes damage. He will only be liable in negligence if he is under a legal duty to take care. It may be objected that “duty” is not confined to the law of negligence and that it is an element in every tort, because there is a legal duty not to commit assault or battery, not to commit nuisance and so forth. But all that “duty” signifies in these other torts is that you must not commit them. It throws no light on their essential ingredients. Thus it will not tell us what the plaintiff must prove in assault in order to be successful. Breach of it is not one of the internal factors which constitute these other torts. But in the tort of negligence breach of “duty” is the chief ingredient of the tort; in fact there is no other except damage to the plaintiff.