Jurisdiction / Tag(s): UK Law
In law, an intervening act is an event that occurs between the defendant’s negligent act and the plaintiff’s injury. This act can break the chain of causation, meaning that the defendant is not legally responsible for the plaintiff’s injury.
An example of an intervening act would be if a driver carelessly leaves their car parked in a busy intersection, causing another driver to crash into it. If the car then explodes, injuring the other driver, the first driver’s negligence would not be the legal cause of the injury. Instead, the explosion would be considered a superseding cause.
Defining Intervening Acts
Intervening acts can be classified into two main categories: superseding causes and non-superseding causes.
Types of Intervening Acts
There are several different types of intervening acts that can be considered when determining whether a defendant is liable for a plaintiff’s injury. These include:
Remoteness of Damages
While intervening acts determine whether a defendant is liable for a plaintiff’s injury, the concept of remoteness of damages assesses the extent of the defendant’s liability. This is to determine if the defendant is responsible for all of the plaintiff’s damages or just a portion of them.
The test for remoteness of damages is the “foreseeability test.” This test asks whether the defendant could reasonably have foreseen the type of injury that the plaintiff has suffered. If the injury was not foreseeable, then the defendant will only be liable for a portion of the plaintiff’s damages. For example, if a negligently constructed building collapses, but the collapse also causes an explosion caused by faulty wiring, the contractor would only be liable for the damage caused by the collapse, not the explosion.
Application of Intervening Acts and Remoteness Doctrines
In determining whether an intervening act breaks the chain of causation and the extent of the defendant’s liability, courts will consider various factors, including:
The doctrines of intervening acts and remoteness of damages are complex legal principles that play a significant role in tort law, particularly in negligence cases. By understanding these doctrines, courts can make informed decisions about whether a defendant is liable for a plaintiff’s injury.
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