Contract law Essay Example

  • Category:
    Law
  • Document type:
    Essay
  • Level:
    Undergraduate
  • Page:
    3
  • Words:
    1522

James Vs Hockey Team6

Establishing a claim in negligence

Negligence can be defined as failure by a person to use due care as expected of a reasonable person in the same situation1. Negligence may constitute actions or inactions that may result in harm on plaintiff in circumstances where the defendant was expected to exercise a duty of care. In a case pitting Mrs Donoghue against Stevenson, Lord Atkin held that the plaintiff ought to have take reasonable care to avoid acts or omissions which you can reasonably foresee would be likely to injure your neighbor in this case a person affected by your acts or omissions2. For a negligence to be established the following elements must be established: a legal mandate must be expected of the defendant to exercise reasonable care to protect the plaintiff3; the defendant failed to exercise the duty of care; the breach of the duty of care on the side of the defendant caused the physical harm on the plaintiff in the form of damages; the harm caused is not beyond the scope of the defendant’s liability, in other words the damage is in the proximity of the expected liability4.

In reference to James predicament, it is clear that all the above mentioned conditions were fulfilled for a negligence case to be established. The contract that James signed with the team management expressly stated that James agreed to a special diet which included vitamins and supplements. What anybody with average reasoning would assume is that the supplements and the vitamins are meant to improve the productivity of James as a player; there are no expectations of banned substances in the diet that would in future harm his career as a professional player. In Caparo Industries pIc v Dickman, it was observed by the court that there must be a situation which the court considers fair, just and reasonable that the law should impose a duty of a given scope upon the defendant for the benefit of the plaintiff5. Team management and more precisely the team doctor and the coach are usually held responsible to care for a player when undertaking any practice to improve performance6.

The coach and team doctor were expected to care about James’s career whenever they implemented a special diet to improve his performance. However they did not do this but instead included banned substances in the special diet. As such, there was a breach of the duty of care and thus satisfying the second condition for a negligence case to be established which holds that a party entrusted with the care did something or did nothing to cause the harm to occur to the affected party7.

There was harm in form damage on career suffered by the James as a result of negligence on the part of the coach and the team doctor. James realized after taking an out-of-competition drug test that he had in his blood traces of banned substances and as such cannot participate in professional sports.

In Caparo Industries pIc vs Dickman the court heldthat in addition to the foreseeability of damage, necessary ingredients in any situation giving rise to a duty of care are that there should exist between the party owing the duty and the party to whom it is owed a relationship characterised by the law as one of proximity8. The player did not go outside the directions and the limits set out by the team to improve himself. He listened to the coach and the doctor and followed their advice to the letter in regards to taking supplements and the vitamins.

From this analysis it is clear that a case of negligence can be established by James. He can successfully sue the team doctor and the coach for causing damage to his career through negligence when actually they had a duty of care to ensure James just gets what will not harm him.

Applying volenti non fit injuria as a defence

In a negligence suit the defendant can be able to absolve himself of any blame by negating the premise on which a negligence case has been established9. A defendant may also claim that the damage did not occur as a result of the negligence on his part10. The doctor and the coach in this case do not choose to go that way; instead they seek to apply volenti non fit injuria for their defence. Essentially then the two want to assume that James voluntarily agreed to the special diet knowing too well the potential harm that may come with the use of the vitamins and the supplements. For volenti non fit injuria to be relied on as a defence strategy, the following requirements must be fulfilled: there must be an agreement, be it express or implied in which the plaintiff or the injured person voluntarily entered into. Knowledge of the risk of injury is not enough. Nothing will suffice short of an agreement to waive any claim for negligence. The plaintiff must agree expressly or impliedly to waive any claim for any injury that may befall him due to the lack of reasonable care by the defendant11; the plaintiff should also be made to understand the nature of the risk that he is exposing himself to by agreeing to consent to the agreement. There must be consent to the breach of duty in full knowledge of the nature and extent of the risk12. If the above are not fulfilled then the volenti non fit injuria defense is not applicable in absolving the defendant from blame.

James freely agreed to a special diet that included vitamins and supplements to improve his performance. This fulfils one requirement of volenti non fit injuria defense whereby the plaintiff is supposed to have entered a contract freely without any coercion. It was not however fully disclosed to James the nature of risks he was exposing himself to when signing the contract. In particular the coach and the doctor did not tell James that by taking the supplements he will be taking a prohibited substance that may damage his career. The implication of this is that it does not fulfill one major requirements of a volenti non fit injuria defence. The person who suffered the damage was not adequately furnished with details on the nature of the risk.

The possibility of the team doctor and the coach relying on volenti non fit injuria to defend themselves from the damage is not sustainable in a court of law since the argument is weakened by the fact that the requirements of volenti non fit injuria are not fully satisfied in the claim that James freely consented to taking the prohibited substance by signing the contract.

The team doctor and the coach cannot also rely on the law to protect them since they perpetuated the use of a prohibited substance in the sporting business. The prohibited substance is obviously not allowed for use by professional sportsmen, in fact it is a criminal offence to use such substance in professional sports13. The law cannot for a matter of fact enforce a contract where the elements of agreement are illegal14. It means then that James and the team could not have entered into a contract whereby be consented to taking an illegal substance, such a contract would have been void on formation. The banned substances are in contravention of the legality of object requirement in contract law.

References

Barnett v Chelsea & Kensington Hospital [1969] 1 QB 428

Caparo Industries pIc v Dickman [1990] 2 AC 605  House of Lords

Carby-Hall, J. R. (1989). Health, Safety and Welfare at Work. Managerial Law
, 31 (1/2), 2-57.

DeMitchell, T. (2007). Negligence: What Principals Need to Know About Avoiding Liability. Rowman and Littlefield Publishers Incorporated

Donoghue v Stevenson [1932] AC 562 House of Lords

Hannabuss, S. (2008). Key Concepts in Law. Library Review
, 57 (7), 554-555

Hartley, H. (2009). Sport, Physical Recreation and the Law. Routledge

Monahan, G. (2001). Contract Law. Taylor and Francis Group.

The Wagon Mound no 1 [1961] AC 388 House of Lords

White v Blackmore [1972] 3 WLR 296

Wooldridge v Sumner [1963] 2 QB 43

1
DeMitchell, T. (2007). Negligence: What Principals Need to Know About Avoiding Liability. Rowman and Littlefield Publishers Incorporated.

2
Donoghue v Stevenson [1932] AC 562 House of Lords

3
Caparo Industries pIc v Dickman [1990] 2 AC 605  House of Lords

4
The Wagon Mound no 1 [1961] AC 388 House of Lords

5
Caparo Industries pIc v Dickman [1990] 2 AC 605  House of Lords

6
Hartley, H. (2009). Sport, Physical Recreation and the Law. Routledge.

7
Hannabuss, S. (2008). Key Concepts in Law. Library Review
, 57 (7), 554-555.

8
Caparo Industries pIc v Dickman [1990] 2 AC 605  House of Lords

9
Carby-Hall, J. R. (1989). Health, Safety and Welfare at Work. Managerial Law
, 31 (1/2), 2-57.

10
Barnett v Chelsea & Kensington Hospital [1969] 1 QB 428

11
White v Blackmore [1972] 3 WLR 296

12
Wooldridge v Sumner [1963] 2 QB 43

13
Hartley, H. (2009). Sport, Physical Recreation and the Law. Routledge.

14 Monahan, G. (2001). Contract Law. Taylor and Francis Group.