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In YOUNG v BELLA the Supreme Court of Canada upheld a claim in negligence by a university student against her professor, and against other members of the university's staff. The basis of the claim was that the student had submitted written work containing a passage describing, in the first person, sexual abuse carried out by the narrator against children she was babysitting. The professor, after consulting her head of department, reported the matter to the child protection services, and the student's name was placed on a register of people prohibited from working with children. Two years later, when child protection services investigated the matter, it emerged that the student had plagiarised the passage from a textbook. But by then, her social work career prospects had been destroyed. The Supreme Court's approach to duty, breach and damages was both distinctive and controversial; English courts would almost certainly have approached the issues differently. This short article explores the Supreme Court's analysis, highlighting the subtle, but significant divergences between the Canadian and English approaches to negligence liability.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2006

More about this publication?
  • Until 2007 the King's Law Journal was known as the King's College Law Journal. It was established in 1990 as a legal periodical publishing scholarly and authoritative Articles, Notes and Reports on legal issues of current importance to both academic research and legal practice. It has a national and international readership, and publishes refereed contributions from authors across the United Kingdom, from continental Europe and further afield (particularly Commonwealth countries and USA). The journal includes a Reviews section containing critical notices of recently published books.

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