Anonymous asked in Politics & GovernmentLaw & Ethics · 10 years ago

Duty to rescue under Civil Law and Common Law?

In most common law jurisdictions such as the US, most Canadian provinces and the UK, there is no law requiring passers-by to help a person in peril. But in lots of common law jurisdictions like continental Europe, the Canadian province of Quebec and etc, there is generally a duty to rescue. For example, in the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms, Section 2 "Every person must come to the aid of anyone whose life is in peril, either personally or calling for aid, by

giving him the necessary and immediate physical assistance, unless it involves danger to himself or a

third person, or he has another valid reason."

Why there is such a difference under civil law and common law? I suspect it might be because of some fundamental philosophical differences under the two system. Could anyone familiar with comparative law explain this to me?


1 Answer

  • Anonymous
    10 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    You are correct regarding the fact that it boils down to a philosophical difference. Speaking as an American who studied law, it has to do with duties the law can impose. A duty only arises by contract, if you cause the damage, or legislation and therefore if you see someone choking in a restaurant, you have no contract with that person, and because you did not cause the person to choke, you aren't obligated to help. The reasoning is because the government should not be involved in social engineering, for lack of a better term. This is the quick and dirty explanation. Here's a better and more interesting one -

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