Contract and Tort Law

Subject: Mental Health
Type: Descriptive Essay
Pages: 4
Word count: 927
Topics: Stress, Emotions, Finance

Table of Contents

Question 1

A contract involves a promise or promises, which are made in such a way as to be recognized by law as sufficient to undertake a legally binding obligation. This means that not all promises are legally enforceable, hence a contract cannot be enforced merely because it involves a promise. A contract must induce a reasonable expectation of the fulfilment of the contractual obligations. This lays the legal foundation for claiming remedies in the event that the contract is breached. Damages, the most common remedy sought, is calculated according to the expectation measure. Essentially, the promisor is obligated to fulfil that which he/she promised or offer compensation to the promisee through payment of monetary equivalent to performance. The promise becomes legally binding once there is consideration. A valid contract involves a price for the promise, that is, what one party pays, not necessarily in monetary value, for the promise of the other party. According to Lord Dunedin, consideration involves one party’s act or forbearance through which the price of the promise of the other is bought thereby giving the promise value. However, the courts have stated that consideration does not arise from a moral obligation to honour one’s promise.

There exists an enforceable contract between Scarlett and Babies R US. The latter has given the promise to deliver the changing mat upon the payment of £8. The payment of the amount by Scarlett has given the contract consideration thereby making the contract legally enforceable. Therefore, Scarlett has a right to seek for remedies in the event that Babies R US fails to deliver the changing mat.  

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Question 2

Ola’s claim is based on the prank played on her by Adam and Joel in which she is told that Adam has had serious injury and the matter has been reported to the police. As a result, she becomes violently sick and her hair begins falling out. On this basis, Ola can make a tortious claim of intentional infliction of emotional distress. This tort is defined as outrageous conduct whose intention is to cause severe emotional distress or if bodily harm occurs as a result, for such bodily harm.

The tort of intentional infliction of emotional distress has had an exceptionally long legal journey as courts were wary of permitting recovery for mental pain and anxiety. Lord Wensleydale stated that the law cannot value or pretend to redress when the unlawful act complained of is solely the cause of emotional distress. For a party to gain remedies for emotional distress, there had to be some independent tort, for example, battery or false imprisonment upon which the mental damages could be pegged. For example, in Victorian Railways Commissioner v Coultas the court rejected claims for mental remedies because there was no incidence of physical injury. Nevertheless, the courts have come to appreciate that an individual’s peace of mind can have independent legal protection, albeit slowly. Initially referred to as the intentional infliction of mental shock, by the mid twentieth century, the tort had had received widespread support from legal scholars and recognition from the courts and today, extensive common law in this field exists explicating the tort of intentional infliction of emotional distress, for example, in employment law.

For one to claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress, certain elements have to be fulfilled. First, there must be an intention to cause emotional distress. The actor must have an intention of causing the plaintiff severe emotional distress or know that such will the resultant of their actions. Adam and Joel’s motivation in sending the message to Ola was to get back at her for locking Adam in the room. As such, their intent was causing a certain level of emotional distress on Ola. 

Second, the defendant’s conduct must be extreme and outrageous. The definition of outrageous conduct is contentious as there is no standard definition. However, most jurisdictions take outrageousness as extreme conduct that goes beyond all bounds of morality, civilization, and decency such that it is considered to be intolerable and atrocious. However, certain trivial actions displaying bad manners can only be regarded as annoying, rude, or insensitive and not sufficiently amount to this tort. Ola’s claim is based on the outrageous conduct of Joel and Adam lying to her about police involvement in the case. 

Third, the plaintiff’s distress must be caused by the actions of the defendant. In this case, Ola must prove that when she became violently sick and her hair started falling off, it was because of Adam and Joel’s behaviour. 

Lastly, for a claim of intentional infliction of emotional distress to stand, the plaintiff must show that the resulting emotional distress caused was severe. Emotional distress includes different unpleasant feelings including fear, anxiety, and grief, all of which Ola could have felt upon being informed that the police were involved in the case.  For example, in Rothwell v Chemical and Insulating Co Ltd & another the defendants were liable for anxiety suffered by the plaintiff due to exposure to asbestos while working in the defendant company. Similarly, as a result of the prank, Ola can show that she suffered emotional distress. 

Did you like this sample?
  1. Smith, Stephen, 2004. Contract Theory. New York: Oxford University Press.
  2. Dunlop Pneumatic Tyre Co Ltd v Selfridge & Co Ltd [1915] AC 845.
  3. Lynch v Knight [1861] 9 HLC 557.
  4. Eastwood v Kenyon [1840] 113 ER 482.
  5. Wilkinson v Downtown [1897] 2 QB 57.
  6. Victorian Railways Commissioner v Coultas [1888] 13 App. Cas. 222. 
  7. Rothwell v Chemical and Insulating Co Ltd & another [2006] EWCA Civ 27.
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