Duty of care

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The implied duty one has to one’s neighbours, those to whom one’s customers give ginger-beer you have sold them, and those whose adjoining mineshafts are prone to flood should your reservoir leak.

The duty of care grew out of the common law of negligence — principles of law governing relations between those who are not bound by contract — that is to say, randoms — and therefore who do not have any agreed obligations to each other. The common law, articulated by Lord Atkin in Donoghue v Stevenson is that one does have a basic duty of care to one’s neighbour to observe the standard of conduct one might expect of the reasonable person — at the time of course expressed as the reasonable man, leading the great A. P. Herbert to muse whether, at law there was such a thing as a reasonable woman.

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