Aquilian liability for negligence and proximity considerations

Authors A Price

ISSN: 1996-2088
Affiliations: Honorary Professor of Law at the University of Edinburgh
Source: Acta Juridica, 2019, p. 315 – 344


This essay defends the importance of proximity considerations under the Aquilian action for negligence. These concern the type of relationship between the parties, and their respective undertakings, roles and previous interactions. Proximity considerations should be, and to an extent already are, taken into account by the courts under the rubric of wrongfulness, alongside well-known legal and public policy considerations (eg the floodgates concern) and constitutional norms (eg accountability). Wrongfulness under the Aquilian action has a dual function: first, to provide an initial justification for the imposition of liability; and second, as a mechanism to keep that liability in check. Proximity considerations are crucial to the first of these two functions, as they contribute to the justification of primary legal duties not to harm negligently and thus to the imposition of liability when justified by corrective justice.