How, if at all, does the liability of a university differ regarding references given to potential employers in respect of current students.

1252 Words6 Pages
Intro To Business Law N1072

University of Sussex
Word count: 1099

December 4, 2013

Critically evaluate, in relation to the common law duty of care, the liability of employers for references. How, if at all, does the liability of a university (such as the University of Sussex) differ regarding references given to potential employers in respect of current (or former) students.

Employers have a certain degree of liability when making statements in a former employee’s reference. Employees and employers have a duty of care, to provide valid descriptions of an individual’s quality and potential as a former employee, and thus a reasonable reference is, truthful and fair. It is up to employers to thus avoid inaccurate
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It was decided that if the “representor gave information-or advice which was negligent he would be liable for any pecuniary or personal damage-caused”5. However the appeal was dismissed due to the fact that with “the absence of a contract or fiduciary relationship” the defendant that used a disclaimer would owe no duty of care.6 The case was significant in that claims on negligent misstatement could work if; there is a special affiliation among parties, the information provided by a party has a voluntary assumed risk, the plaintiff has to deem the information reliable, and finally the reliability of the information must be applicable. 

In Caparo Industries plc v Dickman7, it was determined that courts had to test the duty by “whether the damage was reasonably foreseeable, whether there was a relationship of proximity between claimant and defendant, and whether it is just and reasonable to impose a duty.”8 If so, then a duty of care could arise.
Spring v Guardian Assurance plc9 is key for this discussion. The claimant “won the case on grounds of the defendant’s negligence”.10 The defendant owed the claimant a duty of care in terms of providing a reference. However, there was a partial split in decision between the judges on the defendant’s rejection of liability towards the reference. The Hedley Byrne fundamentals of proximity argued the case focused on

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