Bloke can pursue damages against Ruff Ltd., Right. Ltd and Shoddy Plc under the Compensation Act 2006 since it permits joint liability when asbestos exposure can be attributed to two or more defendants.1
The test for determining whether or not a duty of care exist was first established by the landmark case of Donoghue v Stevenson. In this case Lord Atkin introduced the neighbour principle which is the accepted test used for ascertaining whether or not a duty of care is owed and to whom. According to this principle a duty of care exists in the sense that an individual is required to take all necessary precautions to prevent injury to one’s neighbour. ‘Who then in law is my neighbour? The answer seems to be persons who are so closely and directly affected by my act that I ought to have them in contemplation as being so affected when I am directing my mind to the acts or omissions which are called to question’.2
Over the years the neighbour principle has become the cornerstone for all cases involving tortuous claims. In the leading case of Caparo Industries v Dickman the neighbour principle was elaborated on. It was held that in order to ascertain whether of not a duty of care existed there must be proximity of relationship between the parties. First and foremost, however, the resulting harm must have been foreseeable. Moreover, the imposition of a duty of care in the circumstances must be fair, just and equitable.3 In a later case it was held that the criteria set forth in Caparo Industries v Dickman was applicable and relevant in all subsequent cases.4
As to whether or not it is fair or just to impose a duty of care Lord Diplock addressed the issue in Dorset Yacht Co. Ltd v Home Office. He simply said that ‘the choice is exercised by making a policy decision whether or not a duty of care ought to exist.