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Bradford v Robinson Rentals Ltd [1967] 1 All ER 267

The types of harms which can be claimed for under tortious negligence

Facts

The claimant, Bradford, was an employee of the defendants, Robinson Rentals, and in the course of his employment it was requested that he be sent to assist a colleague in a vehicle repair. This request was made in January, during a time at which the defendants were aware of particularly bad weather concerns resulting from an unusually cold winter. The trip necessitated the claimant to endure a travelling time of approximately 20 hours’ driving (a distance of 450 to 500 miles in total), with both the vehicle that Bradford was driving, and the vehicle he was driving to, lacking any form of heating function. Subsequently, the exposure to the severely cold weather resulted in the claimant developing injuries stemming from frostbite, despite that he took reasonable caution in dressing warmly.

Issues

Were the injuries sustained by the claimant of the form that could be reasonably foreseen and thus claimed for in tort.

Held

The Court applied Hughes v Lord Advocate [1963] 1 All ER 705 and found that whilst the claimant’s specific injuries were not foreseeable (due to the rarity of frostbite injuries in England), the kind of injury was foreseeable, namely injury resulting from exposure to extreme weather conditions. It was reaffirmed that in assessing harm, the precise injury need not have been anticipated, rather the defendant need only have been able to foresee an injury of that kind occurring.

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