Discuss about the Intervening Causation Law In A Medical Context.
The issues in this case is whether Wollongong Council owes a duty of care to Peter and whether such duty was breached which resulted in causing damages to Peter or are the damages too remote? Can the defence of contributory negligence or/and voluntary assumption of risk use by Wollongong Council and whether Peter can sue for economic loss?
The tort of negligence held a person liable for breaching his/her duty of care due to which a person or organisation suffered a loss. The duty of care is the key part based on which the court held a person or organisation liable for negligence and such non-fulfilment of such duty must result in causing damages to another party as given in Donoghue v Stevenson  AC 562 (Barker et al., 2012). The court uses ‘Caparo test’ for evaluating a person’s duty which was given in Caparo Industries PLC v Dickman  2 AC 605 case. The test determines duty based on three factors: reasonable foreseeability, proximity relationship and reasonable reason to impose the duty. In Lindeman Ltd v Colvin  HCA 35 case, the court provided that there must be a causal connection between damages suffered by the party and breach of the duty of care (Hodgson, 2013).
In case the aggrieved party failed to take appropriate steps for avoiding the damages, the defence of contributory negligence can be implied. In Liftronic Pty Ltd v Unver  HCA 24 case, it was held by the court that the contribution must help in causing the damages to the party based on such contribution the amount of penalty reduced by the court. The defence of voluntary assumption of risk provides that a party cannot demand damages if he/she agreed to accept the risk. There are three elements of this defence: voluntary, agreement and full knowledge of extent and nature of the risk. In Nettleship v Weston  3 WLR 370 case, the court held that the agreement to accept the risk could be expressed or implied. In order to demand economic loss occurs due to negligence, it is necessary that elements of Caparo test must be fulfilled (Greene, 2013).
People make purchasing decisions based on the certificate of Wollongong Council, therefore, it has a duty of care, and it has breached such duty by not disclosing full information in the certificate. The damages of Peter are directly caused due to the action of Wollongong Council. Wollongong Council cannot use the defence of contributory negligence due to lack of evidence that Peter did not read the certificate. Peter did not give his acceptance to the risk by either implied or expressed medium hence the defence of voluntary assumption cannot be implemented. Furthermore, the elements of Caparo test are present between Peter and Wollongong Council because both of them have reasonable foreseeability and proximity relationship and it is reasonable to impose the duty on Wollongong Council.
Therefore, Wollongong Council had a duty, and it breached such duty which caused economic damages to Peter, and the damages are directly linked to its action. Both the defences of voluntary assumption of risk and contributory negligence cannot be applied in this case. Peter can demand damages for economic losses as the elements of Caparo test are present between the parties.
Barker, K., Cane, P., Lunney, M. and Trindade, F. (2012) The law of torts in Australia. England: Oxford University Press.
Caparo Industries PLC v Dickman  2 AC 605
Donoghue v Stevenson  AC 562
Greene, B. (2013) Course Notes: Tort Law. Abingdon: Routledge.
Hodgson, D. (2013) Intervening causation law in a medical context. U. Notre Dame Austl. L. Rev., 15, p.22.
Liftronic Pty Ltd v Unver  HCA 24
Lindeman Ltd v Colvin  HCA 35
Nettleship v Weston  3 WLR 370