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<br>Mullin v Richards 1998

Legal Case Summary

Mullin v Richards [1998] 1 WLR 1304



The defendant was a 15-year-old girl who play-fought with rulers with another 15-year-old girl (the claimant). In the course of the game, the defendant’s ruler snapped, causing a splinter to hit the claimant in the eye, blinding her. The claimant sued the defendant in the tort of negligence for her injuries.


Establishing the tort of negligence involves establishing that the defendant owed the claimant a duty of care, which they breached in a manner which caused the claimant recoverable harm. To establish a breach of any duty owed, the claimant must establish that the defendant failed to act as a reasonable person would in their position. Normally, the reasonable person is an objective standard which does not incorporate the particular characteristics of the defendants (such as their clumsy nature). The case law has established some exceptions to this rule, however.

The issue in this case was whether the defendant’s age could be taken into account when determining how the reasonable person would have acted in her situation.

Decision / Outcome

The Court of Appeal held that the defendant was not in breach of the duty of care she owed to the claimant.

This case established the principle that the defendant’s identity as a child is relevant to the standard of care: a child is only to be held to the standard of a reasonable child of the same age, and not to the standard of a reasonable adult.

In this case, a reasonable 15-year-old would not have foreseen any injury arising from the pair’s game, and so would not have taken any additional steps to safeguard the claimant from harm. Accordingly, the defendant acted as a reasonable child would, and was not in breach.

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Answering problem questions in the University of London LLB programme requires a clear understanding of legal principles, good analytical skills and the ability to apply the law to a given set of facts. Here are some tips to help you answer problem questions effectively:

  1. Read the question carefully: Make sure you understand what the question is asking before you begin writing.
  2. Identify the legal issues: Identify the legal issues raised by the facts and the relevant laws that apply to those issues.
  3. Analyze the facts: Analyze the facts presented in the question, focusing on the details that are relevant to the legal issues.
  4. Apply the law: Apply the relevant laws to the facts, making sure to consider all relevant legal principles and cases.
  5. Structure your answer: Use a clear and well-structured approach, starting with an introduction that outlines the main legal issues, followed by a discussion of the relevant laws and a conclusion that summarizes your analysis and sets out your conclusion.
  6. Use relevant cases and statutes: Cite relevant cases and statutes to support your analysis and help illustrate the legal principles you are discussing.
  7. Be concise: Be concise and to the point, focusing on the key issues and avoiding unnecessary detail.
  8. Proofread: Proofread your answer carefully to make sure it is error-free and clear.
  9. Time management: Make sure you manage your time effectively, leaving enough time to review your answer and make any necessary corrections.

By following these tips, you should be able to answer problem questions in the University of London LLB programme effectively and with confidence. Good luck!

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