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Remoteness of damage
 
 
 
 
 
Remoteness of damage relates to the requirement that the damage must be of a foreseeable type. In negligence claims, once the claimant has established that the defendant owes them a duty of care and is in breach of that duty which has caused damage, they must also demonstrate that the damage was not too remote. Remoteness of damage must also be applied to claims under the Occupiers Liability Acts and also to nuisance claims.
 
Remoteness of damage is often viewed as an additional mechanism of controlling tortious liability. Not every loss will be recoverable in tort law. Originally a defendant was liable for all losses which were a direct consequence of the defendant's breach of duty:
 
 
Re Polemis & Furness Withy & Company ltd. [1921]3 KB 560                       Case summary 
 
 
 
This was largely considered unfair as a defendant could be liable for damage which was not foreseeable and therefore could not take steps to prevent it. The direct consequence test was overruled in the Wagon Mound no 1 and replaced with a new test for deciding if damages are too remote:
 
 


The Wagon Mound no 1 [1961] AC 388                         Case summary

 
 
Following the Wagon Mound no 1 the test for remoteness of damage is that damage must be of a kind which was foreseeable. Once damage is of a kind that is foreseeable the defendant is liable for the full extent of the damage no matter whether the extent of the damage is foreseeable.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
The Wagon Mound test was considered and applied in:
 
 
Hughes v Lord Advocate [1963] AC 837                     Case summary
 
 
 
Doughty v Turner Manufacturing Company [1964] 1 QB 518    Case summary


 
 
There has been some confusion as to whether for remoteness of damage,  in addition to being damage of a type which is foreseeable, the damage must occur in a foreseeable manner. Hughes v Lord Advocate suggests not but see:

 

 

Tremain v Pike [1969] 1 WLR 1556                          Case summary
 
 
Jebson v Ministry of Defence [2000] EWCA Civ 198        Case summary
 

 

Jolley v Sutton [2000] 1 WLR 1082                           Case summary




 
The Egg shell skull rule


A final aspect of remoteness of damage is the egg shell (or thin) skull rule. This means a defendant must take their victim as they find them. Ie if the victim is particularly vulnerable or has a pre-existing condition resulting in them suffering greater injury than would be expected in an ordinary person, the defendant remains responsible for the full extent of the injury:
 


 
Smith v Leech Brain [1962] 2 QB 405                        Case summary
 
 
Page v Smith [1996] 1 AC 155
                             Case summary
 
 
 
Corr v IBC Vehicles Ltd [2008] 2WLR 499                Case summary
 
 
 
Remoteness of damage