n South African Law Journal - Reflections on wrongfulness in the law of delict

Volume 124, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0258-2503
  • E-ISSN: 1996-2177



This article traces the often unnoticed changes that the concept of 'wrongfulness' has undergone in the South African law of delict since the middle of the last century. It explains the different roles played by wrongfulness in, on the one hand, cases concerning physical harm caused by a positive act (where it is assumed to be present, barring proof of one of the defences which typically excludes it) and, on the other hand, in cases involving pure economic loss or harm caused by an omission (where it is not assumed, but acts as a control mechanism in regard to when delictual liability should be imposed). It also shows how the concept of wrongfulness should be distinguished from that of negligence and concludes that wrongfulness in the context of negligently caused harm is nothing more than a duty not to be negligent.

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