What Has Become of Anns


  • W. S. Schlosser




The author examines the effects on Canadian law of a recent House of Lords decision overruling the case of Anns v. Merton London Borough. The author begins by tracing the development of the law of negligence from its beginnings in Donoghue v. Stevenson, through the Rivtow Marine decision in Canada, to the House of Lords decision in Anns, its treatment of the concept of economic loss, and the subsequent Canadian decisions in this area. The author then considers the building criticism of the Anns case and it ultimate downfall in the Murphy v. Brentwood District Council decision. The author highlights several results of this decision including: (1) the fallacy of ignoring the type of loss involved and beginning with a prima facie duty based on the mere foreseeability of damage; (2) the much higher degree of proximity required if damage is economic; and (3) the necessity of having regard to the statutory framework where the liability of public bodies is in issue. The author finally considers the Canadian jurisprudence in this area and concludes that, for the most part, the Canadian position will not be affected by the demise of Anns.