1887

oa Litnet Akademies : 'n Joernaal vir die Geesteswetenskappe, Natuurwetenskappe, Regte en Godsdienswetenskappe - Alternatiewe benaderings ten opsigte van feitelike kousaliteit in die deliktereg : regte

Volume 10, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 1995-5928

 

Abstract

In is die eiser tydens sy aanhouding in die Pollsmoor-gevangenis met tuberkulose (TB) geïnfekteer. Hy beweer dat die verweerder se werknemers op nalatige wyse versuim het om die bestaande gesondheidsmaatreëls toe te pas, welke versuim op onregmatige wyse sy infeksie veroorsaak het, en hy stel gevolglik 'n skadevergoedingseis teen die verweerder in. Weens die besondere aard van 'n TB-infeksie is dit onmoontlik om die bron daarvan te identifiseer en bygevolg op oorwig van waarskynlikheid te bewys dat die nalatige versuim van die tronkowerhede die die feitelike oorsaak van die eiser se skade is. Tog bevind die verhoorhof en die konstitusionele hof dat daar wel 'n kousale verband tussen die eiser se skade en die verweerder se nalatige versuim was. Die konstitusionele hof bevind voorts dat al die elemente van 'n delik deur die eiser bewys is en stel die verweerder deliktueel aanspreeklik. Die feite van hierdie saak illustreer die kompleksiteit wat die kousaliteitsvraag soms kan binnedring asook die uitdagings wat die gemeenregtelike of -toets vir feitelike kousaliteit in uitsonderlike feitegevalle moet trotseer.


Die ontoereikendheid van die gemeenregtelike toets vir feitelike kousaliteit is elders breedvoerig bespreek. Een van die tradisionele punte van kritiek teen die toets is dat dit onbevredigend funksioneer met betrekking tot daardie gevalle waar daar meer as een verweerder is wat op een of ander wyse tot die eiser se skade bydra. In hierdie artikel word van 'n vergelykende regsperspektief gebruik gemaak ten einde alternatiewe benaderings tot feitelike kousaliteit in hierdie probleemgevalle krities te evalueer.
Aan die hand van onder andere Amerikaanse, Kanadese en Engelse regspraak word gefokus op die volgende alternatiewe benaderings: Eerstens word daar gekyk na die besluit van Amerikaanse en Kanadese howe om, in besondere gevalle waar meerdere verweerders betrokke is, die bewyslas na die betrokke verweerders te verskuif. Sodanige benadering moet uiteindelik verstaan word as 'n beleidsbesluit wat geneem word wanneer dit duidelik blyk dat daar slegs enkele meerdere verweerders is wat elkeen duidelik op onregmatige en skuldige wyse opgetree het en boonop op soortgelyke wyse tot die eiser se skade bygedra het. Tweedens word, teen die agtergrond van 'n Amerikaanse produkte-aanspreeklikheid-saak, gekyk na die markaandeelbenadering. Ingevolge hierdie benadering word die waarskynlikheid van 'n kousale verband tussen elke betrokke verweerder se bydrae tot die eiser se skade gemeet aan die onderskeie verweerders se persentasie van die markaandeel ten opsigte van die gewraakte produk. Hierdie benadering word nie deur alle Amerikaanse howe aanvaar nie en dit word veral gekritiseer as sou dit die feitelikekousaliteitsvereiste vir deliktuele aanspreeklikheid uitskakel. In derde instansie word die onlangse en veelbesproke -toets vir feitelike kousaliteit kortliks bespreek. Terwyl hierdie alternatiewe benaderings tot feitelike kousaliteit moontlik aangewend sou kon word in meerdere-verweerders-probleemgevalle, word aan die hand gedoen dat dit nie die feitelikekousaliteitsprobleem in die -saak sou kon oplos nie. Die kernprobleem in was nie dat meerdere verweerders op een of ander manier die eiser se skade veroorsaak het nie, maar eerder dat die bron van die eiser se skade geensins identifiseerbaar was nie.


In the plaintiff contracted tuberculosis (TB) during his incarceration in the Pollsmoor prison. He alleged that the defendant's employees negligently failed to implement the existing preventative and precautionary measures, which failure was not only negligent and wrongful, but also caused his TB infection. Accordingly, he instituted a delictual claim for damages against the defendant. The high court upheld his claim, but the supreme court of appeal dismissed it on the basis that it could not be proved, on a balance of probabilities, that the prison authorities' failure to implement such measures, albeit negligent, was the factual cause of the plaintiff's infection. The supreme court of appeal, like the minority of the constitutional court, took sufficient notice of the peculiar nature of a TB infection: transmission can occur by breathing in just one airborne TB mycobacterium, and a human being may at any time be carrying any number of bacterial cells, from any possible number of sources. In some cases TB will take hold but remain dormant, while in others it will multiply and manifest in active disease. Furthermore, a person in whom TB has progressed from "dormant" to "active" will not always immediately show symptoms - it may manifest only as the disease progresses. To add to the complexity, it is possible to be tested for TB but be screened as negative, even though the bacterium is, in fact, present. It follows from the above that identifying the presence of the bacterium, and indeed the number of cells carried by the host, is extremely difficult. Therefore, although it is possible to determine what agent causes TB, science cannot identify which one of innumerable exposures was the probable source of infection in this case. Accordingly, even if the plaintiff was able to show what steps the prison authorities should reasonably have taken, the nature of the disease meant that he would always be at risk of contagion from undiagnosed fellow prisoners, whatever prison management did. Since reasonable measures could not eliminate this risk, and since the plaintiff could not pinpoint who had infected him, it was just as likely as not that he had been infected by a prisoner whom the prison authorities could not reasonably have known might pass the disease on to him. According to the supreme court of appeal it was, therefore, not possible to find that a negligent omission by the prison authorities probably caused his infection.
In a further appeal to the constitutional court, the majority of this court held that the supreme court of appeal, in applying the common law test in respect of factual causation, had applied a rigid and deductive logic. The majority of the constitutional court criticised this approach of the supreme court of appeal and held that, on a balance of probabilities, a factual connection between the plaintiff's harm and the defendant's conduct could be proven when implementing a flexible test in respect of factual causation. Such a flexible approach emphasises that the application of the test is not based on mathematics, pure science or philosophy, but is a matter of common sense, based on the practical way in which the ordinary person's mind works against the background of everyday-life experiences. Notwithstanding the result that the application of the flexible approach would render on the particular facts, the majority of the constitutional court went further and demonstrated that the orthodox but for test could yield the same result. This conclusion was reached in the following way: if reasonable conduct on the part of the prison authorities was postulated, as is required in the application of the orthodox test, the general risk of a TB infection would decrease and, on the basis of inference, this also meant that the risk of a TB infection in respect of a specific detainee would similarly decrease. The majority therefore held that in the circumstances it would be sufficient to satisfy probable factual causation where the evidence establishes that the plaintiff found himself in the kind of situation where the risk of contagion would have been reduced by the proper implementation of preventative measures.

Loading full text...

Full text loading...

Loading

Article metrics loading...

/content/litnet/10/3/EJC147729
2013-12-01
2016-12-11

This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was a Success
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error