Gross negligence

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
For other uses, see Negligence (disambiguation).

Gross negligence is a legal concept which means serious carelessness. Negligence is the opposite of diligence, or being careful. The standard of ordinary negligence is what conduct one expects from the proverbial "reasonable person." By analogy, if somebody has been grossly negligent, that means they have fallen so far below the ordinary standard of care that one can expect, to warrant the label of being "gross." Prosser and Keeton describe gross negligence as being "the want of even slight or scant care", and note it as having been described as a lack of care that even a careless person would use. They further note that while some jurisdictions equate gross negligence with recklessness in terms of culpability, most simply differentiate it from simple negligence in terms of degree.[1]

Criminal law[edit]

Gross negligence is, controversially, used as a standard for criminal law for example, under manslaughter in English law.

Private law[edit]

English law[edit]

The concept of gross negligence is broadly distrusted by English law. In Wilson v Brett[2] Baron Rolfe (later Lord Cranworth) said he,

This view has been consistently approved in English law relating to fiduciary duties, as the courts have reasserted that there is only one standard of culpable carelessness: ordinary negligence. The preferred view has been that the context of a trustee, company director or other fiduciary's judgment is to be taken into account when the judge reviews the exercise of discretion. In Houghland v RR Low (Luxury Coaches) Ltd[4] Ormerod LJ said,

The leading case is Armitage v Nurse where Millett LJ, was asked to decide whether an exclusion clause was effective to absolve a trustee from an accusation of negligence when applying property to beneficiaries. It was held that exclusion clauses were still effective (though other remedies could follow, such as UCTA 1977 in a contract law case) but on the point of principle, as a default position all trustees are liable for ordinary negligence. Millett LJ said,

US Corporate law[edit]

Main article: US corporate law

Roman law[edit]

See also: Roman law

Roman lawyers had an axiom that gross negligence amounts to an intentional wrong, or culpa lata dolo aequiparatur.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ W. Page Keeton, ed. (1984). Prosser and Keeton on the Law of Torts (5th ed.). § 34. 
  2. ^ (1843) 11 M&W 113, 115
  3. ^ Approved by Lord Chelmsford in Giblin v McMullen (1868) LR 2 PC 317, 336
  4. ^ [1962] 1 QB 694