Jacob Eisler: Robinson v. Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police, 2018 UKSC 4

UK Constitutional Law Association

When, in the performance of their roles, do public authorities owe a private law duty of care to those harmed by their actions, and thus face common law tort liability if they discharge their state functions carelessly? The latest case on duties for public authorities, Robinsonv. Chief Constable of West Yorkshire, indicates that the private duties owed in tort by public entities are the same as any other party under the common law. Robinson involved a positive act by police which harmed an innocent bystander; the UKSC was unanimous that the police owed a private duty of care to the victim. The leading opinion by Lord Reed was unequivocal that public authorities face the same test for common law duty of care as any other entity, rather than enduring higher, enjoying more lenient, standards. While Lord Reed’s analysis offers a compelling synthesis of legal precedent, the alternative approach…

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