Negligence

Nettleship v Weston Case

3 Mins read

Nettleship v Weston Case

A Day in Court with Learning Driver – Nettleship v Weston Case

Have you ever wondered what will happen if you ever had an accident while taking driving lessons? Is there any probable chance that you might face legal charges? Or is there any specific law referring to such situations? Or maybe a question will arise that how can the court hold you liable for something you are still learning.

 

What is the Nettleship v Weston Case?

Generally, in cases like this, the Law of Tort is referred. Let’s understand with a reference of Nettleship v Weston Case. Under this case, the question in the court was simply about whether the standard of care will be applicable to a learner driver in the same manner as an experienced driver or not. Providing clarity on this aspect, the English Court of Appeal delivered the judgment for breach of duty in negligence claims.

Nettleship v Weston Case | Learning in Court | LegaMart

Nettleship v Weston Case is an essential application case on standard of care in the Law of Tort. This case represents the Law of Tort at its most sensible and takes a broad-brush approach to justice.

 

What are the facts of the Nettleship v Weston Case?

Simply put, the case is between a married woman, Mrs. Wetson (defendant) and her friend, Mr. Nettleship(plaintiff/claimant). Mrs Wetson wanted to learn to drive and her husband was quite ready for her to learn in his car. Mrs. Wetson asked her friend, Mr. Nettleship, to give her some driving lessons. Before agreeing to do so, he asked her about the insurance in case any accident happens. On his request, Mr. and Mrs. Wetson showed him the insurance policy. According to the insurance policy, it was covering the damages of a passenger in the event of an accident.

 

The plaintiff started giving defendant lessons where he found her very receptive to instruction and a very good learner-driver. On his third lesson, the defendant met with an accident where she had mounted the kerb. Consequently, the defendant stuck the nearside lamp and caused serious injuries to Nettleship.

 

Nettleship v Weston Case | Learning in Court | LegaMart

 

Later, after a few months, the court held liable Mrs. Wetson and charged a fine for the due to lack of care and attention in driving. Moreover, Mr. Nettleship filed a case claiming damages for negligence against Mrs. Weston. But she denied negligence and filed a counterclaim of negligence on his part. She said that her situation was duly conveyed to Nettleship. Hence, he should have expected a high risk and not have demanded such a level of care.

 

What are the legal implications in the matter of Nettleship v Weston?

The Law of Tort is always interrelated with other fields of law. In regard to the term ‘negligence’ under driving offences, the law states that “a tort consisting of the breach of a duty of care resulting in damage to the claimant”. Hence, it is essential to consider an objective standard while dealing with a case of negligence. Court took different fields of law into consideration while concluding the matter of Nettleship and Weston.

 

What was the responsibility of the defendant under criminal law?

Under the criminal law, the defendant was rightly liable for driving without due care and attention. There was no such defence for a learner driver claiming that he/she was under instruction or doing the best and couldn’t help it. The law states that every person driving a car must have an objective standard measured by the standard of a skilled, experienced and careful driver.

 

Nettleship v Weston Case | Learning in Court | LegaMart

 

What was the responsibility of the defendant towards any pedestrian or on the highway?

Under the civil law, the defendant was rightly liable for the damage to the lamp-post. The law states that if a driver goes off the road onto the pavement and damages property or injures a pedestrian, he is prima facie liable. The civil law doesn’t permit excuses like the driver was under instruction or doing the best and couldn’t help it.

 

What was the responsibility of the Defendant towards the instructor in the car?

This legal implication was a special one in this case. Even if he was just a passenger, the learner driver owes a duty of care to him. Mrs. Wetson must have followed a standard of care. Hence, she was held liable towards Nettleship.

 

Nettleship v Weston Case | Learning in Court | LegaMart

 

What was held by the English Court of Appeal?

Taking every aspect of law into consideration, the judge dismissed the claims by Mrs. Wetson. The judge also ordered the defendant to pay compensation for the damages to Nettleship till the time he wasn’t able to work. Moreover, both plaintiff and defendant were responsible for the accident, hence a 50% damage reduction as a joint responsibility was imposed as a result of contributory negligence.

 

What’s the takeaway from the Nettleship and Weston case?

Summing up, be it a learner driver or an experienced driver, they owe the exact same duty to a passenger in his car as he does to the public. Moreover, driving with reasonable care and skill is relevant in every situation. Although, as per the law, the personal mannerism of a driver is not a relevant circumstance.

you can read more on Wikipedia.

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