JC Van der Walt and Rob Midgley define a delict “in general terms [. . .] as a civil wrong,” and more narrowly as “wrongful and blameworthy conduct which causes harm to a person” (2005: par. 2). Negligence (culpa) occurs where there is an inadequate standard of behaviour. It reflects the law’s disapproval of the defendant’s conduct. The conduct is tested against what the reasonable person in the position of the defendant would have foreseen and what he would have done to avoid the consequences (Kruger v Coetzee 1966 (2) SA 428 (A)).
Scenario: The Grade 4 learners at Disney Primary were taken to the aquarium for their annual excursion. Group B was assigned to their form educator, Mrs Elsa. She had ensured that all indemnity forms were signed by parents and guardians before embarking on the excursion.
With much excitement on the bus and at the aquarium, Mrs Elsa continuously enforced order and discipline. She even repeatedly told the learners to stay within their assigned group and kept a watchful eye on them ensuring that they do not touch anything at the aquarium.
One of the learners Minnie, who was assigned to Group B was captivated by a “glowing” fish in a gigantic tank in the distance whilst the rest of Group B and Mrs Elsa were still paying attention to the talk that was being delivered by the guide. Mrs Elsa had noticed Minnie being distracted and called her name to remind her to pay attention to the guide as they could be tested on the talk during their Life Science lesson back at school. At the same time, another learner, Donald had knocked his knee on a wooden box which was part of the décor, and he began to cry. Whilst Mrs Elsa was consoling Donald, Minnie wandered off towards the tank with the “glowing” fish, again. Within minutes, she was nowhere to be found. After much panic and searching, the staff at the aquarium had managed to locate her. Minnie was found unconscious, in a corner after sustaining a deep cut to her head and a fractured leg.
Minnie’s parents are now extremely furious and want to institute legal action against the Mrs Elsa and the school for negligence. With clear reference to the above scenario discuss negligence in a legal context.
Your discussion must include reference to the relevant law. Consult legislation, case law, academic articles, your prescribed book and knowledge gathered from various possible scenarios presented in lectures/ additional notes/resources
Answer to above questions on Law
Negligence is defined as the inability of a person to take reasonable care with the objective of avoiding any harm to another person. A person is considered as negligible according to Kruger v Coetzee 1966(2)SA 428(A) provided the person is not able to meet out the requirement in respect to duty of care, breach of duty, causation, damage etc. In the given case scenario of Minnie’s parents, there is a situation of negligence against Mrs Elsa and the school.
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