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Since the Second World War, public authorities have been made responsible for an increasing number of welfare and regulatory tasks. Numerous statutes impose duties on, and grant powers to, public authorities in the fields of education, housing, child protection, planning, land-use etc. The question then arises: can the public authority be the subject of a private law claim if it discharges these functions carelessly such that it causes, or fails to prevent, harm or should its “public” or statutory nature preclude it owing a duty of care? As will be made clear below, this raises complex issues both of legal principle and policy.
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