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putting the "gross" in gross negligence

11 May 2011

Unlike other jurisdictions, courts in the UK have not normally made a distinction between gross negligence and negligence of any other kind (para 54).

In a recent case however where a set of terms and conditions excluded liability for negligence “other than gross negligence or wilful default”, the court held that a distinction does exist and that an (otherwise negligent) failure to exercise proper skill and care might not amount to gross negligence unless there was also (for example) an “indifference to an obvious risk”.

It’s a distinction that may well be seized upon by those drafting contracts for suppliers – being grossly negligent suggests a greater lack of care than mere negligence, and a greater hurdle to be overcome in the event of a claim. From a customer’s perspective it is a distinction worth looking out for if you want to ensure you have a remedy for mere (trivial) negligence on the part of those providing financial or other services and want to ensure you receive the highest standards of care.

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