n Stellenbosch Law Review = Stellenbosch Regstydskrif - Aspects of wrongfulness : a series of lectures

Volume 25, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 1016-4359
  • E-ISSN: 1996-2193



Wrongfulness - sometimes also referred to as unlawfulness - is one of the elements of delictual liability. The other elements are conduct, fault, causation and harm. Without the convergence of all these elements delictual liability will not ensue. The conduct element requires the presence of human intervention, either through positive conduct or by way of omission. The requirement of fault - in the form of either intent or negligence - deals with the blameworthiness of the defendant's conduct. Harm concerns the effect of the defendant's blameworthy conduct, while causation requires a causal link between the blameworthy conduct and the harm. In modern South African law, wrongfulness has become the most interesting of these elements. Under this rubric the law determines whether the defendant should be held legally liable for the harm suffered by the plaintiff that resulted from the defendant's blameworthy conduct. If the law determines that there will be no liability, the defendant is afforded immunity from the consequences of the wrongful conduct; the defendant is not liable despite the presence of all the other elements of delictual liability.

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