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Marine Cargo Insurance



Principles of causation

The role of causation in insurance law

7.1 It was said in one insurance case that a man’s death was indirectly caused by his birth.1 Although this remark was mainly concerned with the word “indirectly” it illustrates the importance of establishing a direct causal connection between the insured peril, or exclusion, and the loss suffered by the assured. This remains a central issue of insurance law. The question of how close or “proximate” that connection must be, and whether the link is determined by considering closeness in time, or by looking for the effective cause, has varied with the climate of judicial opinion.2 Tests proposed by the judges, such as “proximate in efficiency”,3 give some guidance on the general approach to the problem but tend to disguise the fact that causation is ultimately a matter of first impression, with that impression informed by a reading of the case law. The facts of recent cases may be more indicative, than the words used to define cause, of how causation will be approached by the judges in any individual case.

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