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Negligence comments have missed the point

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Letters

Much has been written on the case of Merrett v Babb (AJ 16/23.8.01) but none seems to have grasped the fundamentals.

Negligence is a direct tort.

That means the perpetrator is liable, not any firm that they may have been working for. An aggrieved party can, and always has been able to, take action against the individual. Merrett v Babb creates no new law.

Being a direct tort also means an employer's insurance company can pursue the individual. A firm's insurance company can pay out on a claim through a firm's professional indemnity insurance and then sue the individual for reimbursement. Most policies contain a clause waiving the insurance company's rights ofsubrogation, as it is called, but it is something employees could well check on.

There is no short cut on this one and the individual must constantly make sure they are covered by appropriate insurance and should not rely on employers, past and present.

Malcolm C Nickolls Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire

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