Are policy and legislative decisions immune from liability in negligence?

British Columbia, Canada

The following excerpt is from Jones v. Donaghey, 2010 BCSC 1498 (CanLII):

To like effect, policy and legislative decisions are immune from liability in negligence because such decisions are made in the interests of the public as a whole and not of any one individual. In Attis v. Canada (Minister of Health), 2008 ONCA 660, at para. 65, leave to appeal refused [2008] S.C.C.A. No. 491, the court said this: 65. When the government interacts with an individual in the context of an ordinary accident, the relationship is obviously both close and direct. In contrast, when government decides what laws to enact or how to allocate limited resources for the general good, it has neither a close nor direct relationship with the individual. The job of the government is to govern and, in the course of doing so, to make broad-based policy decisions for the benefit of the public collectively, even if those decisions may not have positive implications for all individuals. It would severely curtail the government's ability to govern if it were found to have the necessary direct and close relationship to an individual member of the public to support a claim in tort for bad government policy decisions. It is accepted that, if the government fails to make good decisions in these areas, the public will demonstrate its displeasure at election time. Thus, the law is clear that the government does not have a proximate relationship to an individual Canadian when it makes decisions of a political, social or economic nature ... [citation omitted].

As counsel for the government submitted, similar considerations arise at the second stage of the Anns test in determining whether an asserted duty of care falls within the scope of government policy thus negativing any prima facie duty of care. A public authority is under no duty of care relating to decisions involving or dictated by financial, economic, social or political factors or restraints. See Just v. British Columbia, 1989 CanLII 16 (SCC), [1989] 2 S.C.R. 1228 at 1242.

Other Questions

How has the law of negligence been distinguished between negligence and negligence? (British Columbia, Canada)
Can a decision made on grounds of public policy be characterized as a ministerial decision? (British Columbia, Canada)
Are Blank-Out signs a policy decision or an operational decision? (British Columbia, Canada)
Is a "true policy decision" exempt from liability from tort? (British Columbia, Canada)
Can a municipality be held liable in negligence for its policy decisions? (British Columbia, Canada)
Does s. 215.5(7) of the BCSC prohibit the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles from extending the decision date of a decision until after the date of the decision has been determined? (British Columbia, Canada)
Is a Residential Tenancy Branch arbitrator's decision not to interfere with the decision of an arbitrator? (British Columbia, Canada)
What is the difference between operational and policy decisions in the context of a medical malpractice case? (British Columbia, Canada)
What is the test for determining liability under the Negligence Act? (British Columbia, Canada)
What is the test for determining liability in negligence in a motor vehicle accident? (British Columbia, Canada)

Alexi white

"The most advanced legal research software ever built."

Trusted by top litigators from across North America.