Discuss Fault Based Liability

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“Establishing liability based on fault is regarded as a fundamental principal of English law.” Discuss the arguments in of and against this view. In English law, fault is defined as the idea of culpability or blameworthiness. In other words, it is the ‘responsibility for doing something wrong’. In fact, in many areas of law if fault could not be assigned, the system would fall apart as liability in these situations can only be found if fault is established first. Firstly, in contract law, the claimant has to prove that the defendant is at fault on a balance of probabilities. It can be argued that fault based liability is a fundamental principal in English law when breach of contract by one party occurs. Breach of contact can be either actual or anticipatory; an actual breach is when the contract is performed differently, defectively or not at all. The loss caused can be minor or serious and this is determined by the type of the term which has been broken. A breach of condition for example, gives the right to the injured party to terminate the contact or affirm it and in both cases claim damages. In the case of POUSSARD v SPIERS the defendant was at fault as she did not perform the first four nights due to her temporary illness. The responsibility to prove that there has been a repudiatory breach lies on the claimant. Yet, when there is a breach of warranty, the innocent party can only claim damages and this implies that the defendant was less at fault, this was seen in the case of BETTINI v GYE. Anticipatory breach is when a party to a contract states before performance is due that he will not be able to perform his obligations under the contract. In these circumstances the injured party can repudiate the contract and claim damages or wait until the day of performance to see if the other party is going to perform and if not, it becomes an actual breach. Hence,

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