The claimant had suffered a vicious physical assault from which the claimant’s employers should have protected him, and an incompetently performed surgical operation. Three psychiatrists agreed that the aetiology of the claimant’s very severe psychiatric disabilities was complex and that different elements of his mental troubles could be attributed to the two separate tortious incidents.
Held: The court considered the relationship between the damage caused and the duty in negligence.
Laws LJ said: ‘Once it is recognised that the first principle is that every tortfeasor should compensate the injured claimant in respect of that loss and damage for which he should justly be held responsible, the metaphysics of causation can be kept in their proper place: of themselves they offered in any event no hope of a solution of the problems which confront the courts in this and other areas.
So in all these cases, the real question is, what is the damage for which the defendant under consideration should be held responsible. The nature of his duty (here, in the common law duty of care) is relevant; causation, certainly, will be relevant – but it will fall to be viewed, and in truth can only be understood, in light of the answer to the question: from what kind of harm was it the defendant’s duty to guard the claimant? . . Novus actus interveniens, the eggshell skull, and (in the case of multiple torts) the concept of concurrent tortfeasors are all no more and no less than tools or mechanisms which the law has developed to articulate in practice the extent of any liable defendant’s responsibility for the loss and damage which the claimant has suffered.’ In this case there was nothing in the way of a sensible finding that while the second defendants obviously (and exclusively) caused the right eye blindness, thereafter each tort had its part to play in the claimant’s suffering.
Laws LJ considered the logical impossibility of apportioning the damage among different tortfeasors, and said: ‘The reason for the rule that each concurrent tortfeasor is liable to compensate for the whole of the damage is not hard to find. In any such case, the claimant cannot prove that either tortfeasor singly caused the damage, or caused any particular part or portion of the damage. Accordingly his claim would fall to be dismissed, for want of proof of causation. But that would be the plainest injustice; hence the rule. However, the rule was a potential source of another injustice. A defendant against whom judgment had been given, under the rule, for the whole of the claimant’s damages had at common law no cause of action against his fellow concurrent tortfeasor to recover any part of what he had to pay under the judgment; so that the second tortfeasor, if for whatever reason he was not sued by the claimant, might escape scot free. Hence the Act of 1978 and its predecessor the Law Reform (Married Women and Tortfeasors) Act 1935. It provides a right of contribution between concurrent tortfeasors. The expression ‘same damage’ in s.1(1) therefore means (and means only) the kind of single indivisible injury as arises at common law in a case of concurrent torts.’
Schiemann LJ, Laws LJ, Henry LJ
 QB 351,  EWCA Civ 190, (2001) 62 BMLR 84,  3 WLR 1184
Civil Liability (Contribution) Act 1978 1(1) 2(1)
England and Wales
Cited – Blatch v Archer 1774
Lord Mansfield said: ‘It is certainly a maxim that all evidence is to be weighed according to proof which it was in the power of one side to have produced, and in the power of the other to have contradicted.’ . .
Cited – Heil v Rankin, Rees v Mabco (102) Ltd, Schofield v Saunders and Taylor Ltd and Other cases CA 23-Mar-2000
The Law Commission had recommended that the general level of damages awarded for pain suffering and loss of amenity in personal injury cases should be raised. The Court now considered several cases on the issue.
Held: The court would do so. . .
Cited – Dingle v Associated Newspapers CA 1961
A defamation of the claimant had been published and then repeated by others.
Held: The court discussed the logical impossibility of apportioning damage between different tortfeasors: ‘Where injury has been done to the plaintiff and the injury . .
Cited – Hogan v Bentinck Collieries HL 1949
The workman plaintiff suffered from a congenital defect; he had an extra thumb in his right hand. He met with an industrial accident and fractured the false thumb. It was treated by splinting but he continued to be in pain. He was then sent to the . .
Cited – Chapman v Hearse, Baker v Willoughby HL 26-Nov-1969
The plaintiff, a pedestrian had been struck by the defendant’s car while crossing the road. The plaintiff had negligently failed to see the defendant’s car approaching. The defendant had a clear view of the plaintiff prior to the collision, but was . .
Cited – Robinson v Post Office 1974
The chain of causation leading to the damages was broken by a later negligent act. . .
Cited – Jobling v Associated Dairies HL 1980
The claimant suffered an accident at work which left him with continuing disabling back pain. Before the trial of his claim he was diagnosed as suffering from a disease, in no way connected with the accident, which would in any event have wholly . .
Cited – Wardlaw v Dr Farrar CA 27-Nov-2003
The claimant appealed an award of andpound;1,000 damages for the death of his wife for professional negligence. Doctors had differed as to whether the delay complained of had contributed to the death.
Held: It was vital now that medical . .
Cited – Fairchild v Glenhaven Funeral Services Ltd and Others HL 20-Jun-2002
The claimants suffered mesothelioma after contact with asbestos while at work. Their employers pointed to several employments which might have given rise to the condition, saying it could not be clear which particular employment gave rise to the . .
Cited – Corr v IBC Vehicles Ltd CA 31-Mar-2006
The deceased had suffered a head injury whilst working for the defendant. In addition to severe physical consequences he suffered post-traumatic stress, became more and more depressed, and then committed suicide six years later. The claimant . .
Cited – Barker v Corus (UK) Plc HL 3-May-2006
The claimants sought damages after contracting meselothemia working for the defendants. The defendants argued that the claimants had possibly contracted the disease at any one or more different places. The Fairchild case set up an exception to the . .
Cited – Dickins v O2 Plc CA 16-Oct-2008
The employer appealed against a finding that it was responsible for the personal injury of the claimant in the form of psychiatric injury resulting from stress suffered working for them. She had told her employers that she was at the end of her . .
Cited – Gray v Thames Trains and Others HL 17-Jun-2009
The claimant suffered severe psychiatric injured in a rail crash caused by the defendant’s negligence. Under this condition of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, the claimant had gone on to kill another person, and he had been detained under section . .
Cited – Halsey v Milton Keynes General NHS Trust etc CA 11-May-2004
The court considered the effect on costs orders of a refusal to take part in alternate dispute resolution procedures. The defendant Trust had refused to take the dispute to a mediation. In neither case had the court ordered or recommended ADR.
Cited – Luke v Kingsley Smith and Company and Others QBD 23-Jun-2003
The claimant sued various of those who had represented him in a claim against the Ministry of Defence. He believed that he had had to accept an inadequate sum in settlement after being at risk of losing the claim for non-prosecution. The defendant . .
These lists may be incomplete.
Updated: 10 January 2021; Ref: scu.185924