To a certain extent, employers have a liability when providing references for their employees. There is no legal obligation for a reference to be issued, however both employers and employees have a duty of care when it comes to giving accurate and truthful statements of an individual’s capabilities and potential. This means that employers may face legal charges if their references are found to be inaccurate or misleading, as they are giving false information to a potential employer, and may place the individual’s reputation and future in jeopardy. The same concept applies for university students, as their professors will have a similar duty of care towards them when producing references.
A duty of care owed by an individual to another refers to “a moral or legal obligation to ensure the safety or well-being of others” (Oxford Dictionaries – English, 2017). Your current employer owes you a duty of care, as well as your current/former school or university. In both these situations, a hint of negligence may aggrieve an individual, and also put others in harm’s way. Tort of negligence can be defined as “a breach of duty or a failure of one party to exercise the standard of care required by law, resulting in damage to the party to whom the duty was owed” (Colorado.edu, 2017). In tort law, liability will emerge only through faults of the defendant at hand. This means the modern concept of negligence derives from evidence that a party has failed in a specific duty where there was foreseeable damage to another party. In order to investigate the effects of negligence on an individual, past cases must be introduced to justify where the rules have originated in order to establish whether a duty of care exists.
It was not until Donoghue v. Stevenson that negligence was established as its own, separate tort. The plaintiff had found a decomposed snail in her bottled ginger beer, and was successful against the defendant (ginger beer manufacturer). This case “established the modern law of negligence and established the neighbour test” (E-lawresources.co.uk, 2016). During the trial, the famous ‘neighbour speech’ was stated by Lord Atkin. In his speech, he mentions how “You must take responsible care to avoid acts or omissions which you can reasonably foresee would likely injure your neighbour” (lawgovpol.com, 2014). Lord Atkin’s neighbour test was created, and now establishing whether a duty of care exists was made much easier. The judge would need to determine if there was: 1. A reasonable foresight of harm, or 2. A relationship of proximity (Martin and Law, 2009). The relevance of this case is undeniable as it established negligence as its own tort and accepted that it is a reoccurring characteristic in certain situations.