Skip to main content
Rescue of persons and property in a comparative common law and civil law context
Tort Law Review (2011)
  • Douglas Hodgson, The University of Notre Dame Australia
The rescue of persons and property raises controversial and finely balanced
ethical and public policy considerations for both common law and civil law
systems. This article examines the historical development of the common law
across a number of such jurisdictions in this field and the factors which have
influenced such development. In which circumstances today is a duty of care
owed to a rescuer and is there a duty to rescue someone who has become
imperilled through her or his own, or a third party’s, negligence? What is the
relevant standard of care to be applied to rescuers? To what extent does, or
should, the law differentiate between professional and non-professional
rescuers? Which causation issues commonly arise in the rescue context and
how should the law deal with negligent rescue attempts? To what extent do
the common law defences still operate within this sphere? To what extent
does, or should, the criminal law inform the development of civil law norms?
Should rescuers be entitled to compensation for, and reimbursement of, their
damages and expenses? And how should the law address medical rescue
cases? This article addresses these questions and concludes with a proposal
that the law should recognise, in limited and exceptional but compelling
circumstances, a positive duty to rescue if certain prescribed criteria are
Publication Date
Citation Information
Hodgson, D. (2011). Rescue of persons and property in a comparative common law and civil law context. Tort Law Review, 2011(19), 125-141.