The standard of the reasonable person in determining negligence – comparative conclusions
MetadataShow full item record
The standard of the reasonable person or its equivalent, in general, is used in many jurisdictions to determine fault in the form of negligence. Although the standard is predominantly objective it is also subjective in that the subjective attributes of the person against whom the standard applies as well as the subjective circumstances present at the time of the delict or tort lend themselves to an objective-subjective application. In South African law, before a person can be judged according to the standard of the reasonable person, the person must first be held accountable. If a person cannot be held accountable, then the standard does not apply at all. The general standard of the reasonable person cannot be applied to children, the elderly, persons with physical disabilities, persons with mental impairments or experts. Therefore, depending on the subjective attributes of the person against whom the standard is being applied, the standard may have to be adjusted accordingly. The general standard of the reasonable person would be raised when dealing with experts, for instance, and lowered when dealing with persons with physical disabilities. This contribution considers whether the current application of the standard of the reasonable person in South African law is satisfactory when applied generally to all persons, no matter their age, experience, gender, physical disability and cognitive ability. The application of the standard of the reasonable person in South African law is compared to the application of the standard of the reasonable person or its equivalent in the United Kingdom, the United States of America and France. Just as South African law applies the standard of the reasonable expert to experts, this contribution explores whether the South African law should be developed to use similar adjusted standards when dealing with children, the elderly, persons with physical disabilities and so on.
- PER: 2021 Volume 24