Delict (Scots law)

Delict (Scots Law)

Delict (Scots law)

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Delict in Scots Law is, amongst other things, the responsibility to make reparation caused by breach of a duty of care or, arguably, the duty to refrain from committing such breaches. The equivalent in English law and other common law jurisdictions is known as tort law.


"Delict" as a word derives from the Latin "delictum" and as a branch of Scots Law revolves around the fundamental concept "Damnum Injuria Datum" - literally loss wrongfully caused. Where A has suffered wrongful loss at the hands of B (generally where B was negligent) B is under a legal obligation to make reparation. There are many various delicts which can be committed, ranging from assault to procurement or breach of contract.

Delict deals with the righting of legal wrongs in civil law, on the principle of liability for loss caused by failure in the duty of care, whether deliberate or accidental. While it vastly covers the same ground as the English law of Tort, the Scots law is different in many respects and concentrates more on general principle and less on specific wrongs. While some terms such as assault, defamation are used in both systems, their technical meanings differ.

The landmark decision on establishing negligence, for Scotland and for the rest of the United Kingdom, is the House of Lords appeal case, Donoghue v. Stevenson 1932 AC 562, 1932 SC (HL) 31, 1932 SLT 317.

The Duty of Care

Donoghue v Stevenson (1932), also known as "The Paisley Snail...
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