Wielding Occam's razor: pruning strategies for economic loss
Oxford Journal of Legal Studies, 26, (2), . (doi:10.1093/ojls/gql004).
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The English Court of Appeal is currently faced with three analytically distinct approaches to the question of when one party owes another a duty of care in respect of her economic interests, all of which bear the authority of the House of Lords. Unable to choose between them, it has recently adopted a fourth approach combining which combines them, in the apparent belief that the combination will eradicate any individual deficiencies. Against the background of a recent case, the author argues that this is a holding strategy at best and methodologically deficient. He also challenges the continuing lip-service paid by courts to models of liability based upon ‘assumptions of responsibility,’ examining and criticising the causes of their persistence in the law in the face of widespread academic criticism. Instead, the author argues, the House of Lords should now clearly endorse a single reasoning strategy to economic loss cases based on the three-stage approach in Caparo Industries v Dickman. Properly understood, this approach offers the best prospect of facilitating consistent and transparent decision-making in the longer term.
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