A Revolution in Duty of Care?
James Goudkamp, 'A Revolution in Duty of Care?' (2015) 131 Law Quarterly Review pp.519–525.
4 Pages Posted: 26 Feb 2016
Date Written: 2015
L.Q.R. 519 In January 2015 the Supreme Court of the UK delivered its much-anticipated decision in Michael v Chief Constable of South Wales Police  UKSC 2;  2 All E.R. 635. The proceedings arose as a result of a failure by police services to intervene in time to prevent a woman from being murdered. The police had been advised of the identities of both the murderer and the victim. The overarching question in the case was whether the police owed the victim a duty of care. Standing in the way of the recognition of a duty of care was the decision of the House of Lords in Hill v Chief Constable of West Yorkshire  A.C. 53;  2 All E.R. 238. The House held in that famous case that the police did not owe a duty of care to a woman who had been killed by the Yorkshire Ripper. Crucial to the decision in Hill was the fact that the woman was merely one of a vast number of the Ripper’s potential victims. A majority of the Supreme Court held in Michael that the Hill principle — the rule that the police do not owe victims of crime a duty of care — applies even when the identities of both the victim and the perpetrator are known to the police. Michael is obviously important for what *L.Q.R. 520 it says about the private law responsibilities of police officers. But the decision is of much wider significance. It arguably signals a major shift in the approach to determining when a duty of case exists generally.
Keywords: tort, negligence, duty of care
JEL Classification: K13
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation