Recent Developments in the Law of Torts in Northern Ireland Annual Conference of the Irish Association of Law Teachers

Jack Anderson

Research output: Working paper


This paper reviews decisions from the Northern Ireland and England and Wales High Courts and Courts of Appeal as well as the UK Supreme Court relating to tort and principally to the tort of negligence in the past 12 months or so.

In structure, the paper will be presented in four parts. First, three preliminary points relating to contemporary features of the NI civil courts: personal litigants – Devine v McAteer [2012] NICA 30 (7 September 2012); pre-action protocols – Monaghan v Graham [2013] NIQB 53 (3 May 2013); and the rise of alternative dispute resolution. On the last named issue, the recent decision of PGF II SA v OMFS Company 1 Ltd [2013] EWCA Civ 1288 (23 October 2013) on unreasonable refusal to mediate, will be discussed.

Second, the paper moves to consider the law of negligence generally and case law from the NI High Court reiterating Lord Hoffmann’s view in Tomlinson v Congleton Borough Council [2004] 1 AC 46 that no duty of care arises from obvious risks of injury. In this, reference will be made to the application of the above “Hoffmann principle” in West Sussex County Council v Pierce [2013] EWCA Civ 1230 (16 October 2013), which concerned an accident sustained by a child at school. A similar set of facts was presented recently to the UK Supreme Court in Woodland v Essex County Council [2013] UKSC 66 (23 October 2013). The decision there, on non-delegable duties of care, will have a significant impact for schools in the provision of extracurricular activities.

Third, I will review a NI case of note on the duty of care of solicitors in the context of professional negligence in the context of conflicting advice by counsel.

Fourth, I will examine a series of cases on employer liability and including issues such as the duty of care towards the volunteer worker; tort and safety at work principles generally; and, more specifically, the duty of care of the employer towards an employee who suffers psychiatric illness as a result of stress and/or harassment at work. On the issue of workplace stress, the NI courts have made extensive reference to the Hale LJ principles found in the Court of Appeal decision of Hatton v Sutherland [2002] 1 All ER 1 and applied to those who have suffered trauma in reporting on or policing “the troubles” in Northern Ireland. On the issue of statutory harassment at work, the paper will also mention the UK Supreme Court’s decision in Hayes v Willoughby [2013] UKSC 17 (20 March 2013).
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages23
Publication statusPublished - 20 Mar 2014

Bibliographical note

Annual Conference of the Irish Association of Law Teachers 22-24 November 2013


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