Law of Tort
In common law, one party can bring a claim against the other over what is called negligent misstatement. These are tort claims which arise if a party (claimant) brings a claim against the other (defendant) for providing wrong statements that caused damages when the claimant relied on them. This paper will be providing a more in-depth understanding by evaluating Ellen's case.
Ellen’s case is a matter of professional negligence on the people offering advice which led to Ellen’s closure of business, and what could be classified as psychiatric injury or the nervous shock in the law of torts.
A claim over negligent misstatement will succeed in court if it passes the general negligence test. The test requires the claimant to prove that all the case meets all the elements of negligence (Steele, 2017).
Element one: Duty of care
The settlement of this element requires the claimant to prove that the damages or loss claimed is reasonably foreseeable. It is more of a question whether the damages claimed are reasonably foreseeable in the defendant’s profession (Iacobucci & Trebilcock, 2016). Within this element, the issue of proximity must also come to question. The claimant must show the legal closeness or relationship between him and the defendant who could have led to the rise of a duty to care (Lunney, Nolan & Oliphant, 2017). The last question is finding whether it is fair and reasonable to impose that duty of care to the defendant given the available circumstances. It is a question as to whether the claimant was actually vulnerable to the damage due to the defendant’s misconduct.
In the cases of psychiatric Injuries, the basic rule that courts apply is classifying it either as pure mental or consequential mental injuries (Mulheron, 2016). Pure psychiatric injuries are only mental if they are not resulting consequentially from personal injuries. For instance, where a person’s properties are damaged, and he suffers mental injuries because of the loss of the properties, the court regards that as pure mental injuries (Mulheron, 2016).
Element two: Finding the breach
The second element requires the defendant to satisfy that the defendant violated his duty of care. (Twomey, Jennings, Fox & Anderson, 2011). This part involves an objective test. The court puts the defendant at the position of a reasonable person and finds out whether a reasonable person in that field would have acted or not acted like the defendant.
Element three: Proof that damages arose from defendant’s breach
This element requires the claimant to exhibit that the breached duty caused the claimed loss and satisfy the ‘but for’ test (Varuhas, 2014). Also, the damages or the losses must be reasonably foreseeable, and they should not be too remote (Sohn, D. H., 2013).
There two types of cases that apply to Ellen’s scenario. The first one is a case where reliance on a professional misstatement causes damage or harm to the property. The second one is where damages following a professional misstatement leads to mental injuries. The case of (Morgan Crucible v Hill Samuel Bank, 1991) fits the first scenario where professional misstatement led to the harm of one party.
The claimant relied on the financial advice when placing his bids. However, the advice was inaccurate and misstated. The claimants afterward suffered a loss. The court found the Samuel Bank liable for negligent misstatement. Regarding psychiatric injuries, the case of (Dulieu v White, 1901) is a fitting match to Ellen’s. The claimant was pregnant, and she was working behind a bar. The defendant’s horse and a cart entered the pub through the window causing the claimant much fear. The claimant suffered a nervous shock that led to her miscarriage. The court found Mr. White liable for the shock damages. Both of these cases match Ellen’s situation.
The judge would rule on behalf of Ellen. The council officer owed a duty of care to Ellen of which he breached. The breach of duty caused Ellen to suffer huge loss and closure of her business which made her suffer the nervous disorder. The council officer would be liable for these damages.
The contract between Ellen and Landlord was discharged through frustration or under the doctrine of impossibility.
After formation of a contract, sometimes performance becomes impossible with even though both parties acted honestly without a fault. Both parties are discharged from pursuing their further obligation by what is called frustration or doctrine of impossibility or impracticability (Poole, 2014). Examples of such situations are the frustration of the law, acts of God, the death of one party, death, long-term illness or disability (Dung, Thang & Hung, 2010). These are mostly situations that logically debilitate one of the parties from carrying out its obligations.
An example of a case that befits Ellen’s case is the case of (Condor v Barron Knights, 1966). The contract required Condor to be available for performance for seven nights in a week. Unfortunately, Condor became seriously ill, and the doctors recommended a rest with no work. The court found that the parties could not continue with the contract as it was frustrated by the illness.
Ellen’s nervous disorder satisfies to be an incidence that can frustrate an existing contract. Therefore, the court is likely to handle the contract as a frustrated one but not a breached contract
3.Yes, the council officer was negligent of misstatement. Like as explained above, he would be liable for the damages incurred by Ellen
Dung, P., Thang, P., & Hung, N. (2010). Modular argumentation for modeling legal doctrines of performance relief. Argument & Computation, 1(1), 47-69.
Iacobucci, E., & Trebilcock, M. (2016). An economic analysis of waiver of tort in negligence actions. University Of Toronto Law Journal, 66(2), 173-196.
Lunney, M., Nolan, D. & Oliphant, K. (2017). Tort law. 6th ed. United Kingdom, UK: Oxford University Press.
Mulheron, R. (2016). Principles of tort law (1st ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Poole, J. (2014). 12. Discharge by frustration: Subsequent impossibility. Casebook On Contract Law, 537-565.
Sohn, D. (2013). Negligence, genuine error, and litigation. International Journal Of General Medicine, 49.
Steele, J. (2010). Tort law (2nd ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press, USA.
Twomey, D., Jennings, M., Fox, I., & Anderson, R. (2011). Anderson's business law and the legal environment (12th ed.). Cincinnati, Ohio: West/Thomson Learning.
Varuhas, J. (2014). The Concept of 'Vindication' in the Law of Torts: Rights, Interests and Damages. Oxford Journal Of Legal Studies, 34(2), 253-293.
Dulieu v White  2 KB 669 High Court King’s Bench
Morgan Crucible Co v Hill Samuel & Co  Ch 295
Condor v Baron Knights  1 WLR 87