Chaudry v Prabhakar – 1989

March 07, 2024
Micheal James

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Introduction: In 1989, the case of Chaudry v Prabhakar presented a significant legal conundrum regarding the existence and scope of duty of care in non-commercial relationships. This case, heard in the English courts, delved into the complexities of negligence law and explored the obligations individuals owe to one another in the context of providing advice or information.

Background: The case originated from a scenario where Mr. Chaudry sought advice from his friend, Mr. Prabhakar, regarding the suitability of a property investment. Relying on Prabhakar’s expertise as a surveyor, Chaudry made the investment, only to suffer financial losses later. Feeling misled, Chaudry brought a negligence claim against Prabhakar, alleging a breach of duty of care.

Legal Issues: Central to the case were the legal issues surrounding the duty of care owed by one friend to another in a non-commercial relationship. The court had to determine whether Prabhakar, in providing advice to Chaudry, owed him a duty of care and, if so, whether that duty was breached.

Arguments Presented: Chaudry argued that Prabhakar, by offering professional advice in his capacity as a surveyor, assumed a duty of care towards him. He contended that Prabhakar failed to exercise reasonable skill and care in providing the advice, thereby breaching his duty. Prabhakar, on the other hand, asserted that the advice was given in a social context and did not create a legal duty of care.

Court’s Decision: The court ruled in favor of Chaudry, establishing that Prabhakar did owe him a duty of care. The court reasoned that, despite the absence of a formal relationship, Prabhakar’s expertise and the reliance placed on his advice created a reasonable expectation of care. Prabhakar’s failure to exercise due diligence in providing accurate advice constituted a breach of this duty.

Legal Principles Established: The case of Chaudry v Prabhakar solidified the legal principle that the existence of a duty of care is not contingent on formal relationships but can arise from the circumstances and expectations of the parties involved. It underscored the importance of exercising reasonable skill and care when providing advice, even in informal or social settings.

Impact and Analysis: The decision in Chaudry v Prabhakar has had far-reaching implications for negligence law, particularly in delineating the boundaries of duty of care in non-commercial relationships. It emphasized the need for individuals to be mindful of the advice they give, even in casual settings, as it may give rise to legal obligations.

Furthermore, the case sparked debates among legal scholars about the appropriate standard of care in such situations and the balance between protecting individuals from negligence and allowing for the free exchange of advice in social settings. While some hailed the decision for promoting accountability and protecting individuals from negligent advice, others expressed concerns about its potential chilling effect on interpersonal relationships.

Conclusion: The case of Chaudry v Prabhakar serves as a poignant reminder of the complexities inherent in negligence law and the nuanced considerations involved in establishing duty of care. By recognizing the existence of a duty of care in informal relationships, the court reaffirmed the principle that negligence extends beyond formal contractual arrangements. This case underscores the importance of exercising caution and diligence in offering advice, even in seemingly informal contexts, to avoid potential legal liabilities.

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