Proximity As Reasonable Expectations

30 Pages Posted: 4 Jun 2019

See all articles by Justin Jerzy Tan

Justin Jerzy Tan

National University of Singapore (NUS) - Faculty of Law

Date Written: March 1, 2019


Proximity is a necessary condition to found a duty of care in negligence, In this article, I make three arguments. First, I argue that the cases show that proximity as currently defined (physical, causal and circumstantial closeness between the plaintiff and defendant) is an unsatisfactory duty-determining device. Proximity so defined does not explain most of the Singapore duty cases and is unsatisfactory in dealing with psychiatric harm cases. Next, I explore why this is so. It turns out that the current definition is unsatisfactory because it is non-binary, non-basic and fails to accommodate both the personal characteristics of the parties and residual legal principles. Lastly, I propose a new proximity rule and guidelines in implementing this rule. The new proximity rule is: proximity is present if and only if it is reasonable to expect the defendant to take account of the plaintiff’s interest in not suffering the damage that he suffered.

Suggested Citation

Tan, Justin Jerzy, Proximity As Reasonable Expectations (March 1, 2019). Singapore Journal of Legal Studies, Mar 19, pp147-176 (2019), Available at SSRN:

Justin Jerzy Tan (Contact Author)

National University of Singapore (NUS) - Faculty of Law ( email )

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Singapore, 259776

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