The Law of Misstatements: 50 Years on from Hedley Byrne v Heller, edited by UQ Professors Kit Barker, Ross Grantham and Warren Swain has just received a glowing review from Nicholas Hoggard, Barrister of Lincoln’s Inn and Doctoral Scholar at Durham Law School.
Mr Hoggard writes “this is a very important work on Hedley Byrne liability, whatever the exact nature of that liability may be.”
Hedley Byrne established that a person could be liable for economic loss caused by a statement – if that statement was relied on in such a way that caused the loss. The common illustration is loss caused by bad investment advice. However, this is controversial for the questions it invites on personal responsibility.
For example, in cases of medical negligence, no one would ever say the patient themselves bears any responsibility for the harm suffered. However, the same cannot be said for a misstatement. Did the person have any responsibility for performing due diligence to protect themselves against the misstatement? If so, where do we draw the line, and to what extent is it affected by disclaimers or contractual fine print?
How these questions are answered has important ramifications not just for case law, but for how the courts and Parliament grapple with a range of legal and policy issues. The Law of Misstatements is the first book in over ten years to tackle the problem.
According to Mr Hoggard, “What is most exciting about this volume is its demonstration of the broader debate on tort; in deconstructing one small element of tortious liability on the fringes of our accepted bounds of liability, it has rehearsed with new clarity the unrest and instability at the heart of tort jurisprudence.”