What is the significance of the Law Reform (Contributory Negligence) Act, 1945?
[Law of Torts] – The common law rule that if the plaintiff’s or the deceased’s (in case of death) negligence contributed in some degree to the injury or death, the action failed, was illogical and its origin lay possibly in the procedural and pleading anomalies of the common law. The reform in England came by legislation in the shape of the Law Reform (Contributory Negligence) Act, 1945.
Section 1 (1) of the Act provides that where any person or persons, a claim in respect of that damage shall not be defeated by reason of the fault of the person suffering the damage, but the damage recoverable in respect thereof shall be reduced to such an extent as the court thinks just and equitable having regard to the claimant’s share in the responsibility for the damage. It may, however, be noted that that act of 1945 has simply altered the legal consequences of contributory negligence but the general rules for determining whether there was contributory negligence or not remain the same. Section 4 of the Act defines ‘damage’ to include loss of life and personal injury and ‘fault’ to mean negligence, breach of statutory duty or other acts or omission which give rise to liability in tort. There is no corresponding Central Act in India but the provisions of the English Act have been followed, in preference to the common law rule, being more in consonance with justice, equity and good conscience.