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Encyclopedia > Reasonable person

The reasonable man or reasonable person standard is a legal fiction that originated in the development of the common law. The reasonable person is a hypothetical individual whose view of things is consulted in the process of making decisions of law. The question, "How would a reasonable person act under the circumstances" performs a critical role in legal reasoning in areas such as negligence and contract law. In the common law, legal fictions are suppositions of fact taken to be true by the courts of law, but which are not necessarily true. ... This article concerns the common-law legal system, as contrasted with the civil law legal system; for other meanings of the term, within the field of law, see common law (disambiguation). ... A judgment or judgement (see spelling note below), in a legal context, is synonymous with the formal decision made by a court following a lawsuit. ... Law (from the late Old English lagu of probable North Germanic origin) in politics and jurisprudence, is a set of rules or norms of conduct which mandate, proscribe or permit specified relationships among people and organizations, intended to provide methods for ensuring the impartial treatment of such people, and provide... Casuistry (argument by cases) is an attempt to determine the correct response to a moral problem, often a moral dilemma, by drawing conclusions based on parallels with agreed responses to pure cases, also called paradigms. ... In law, negligence is a type of tort or delict that can be either criminal or civil in nature. ... A contract is any promise or set of promises made by one party to another for the breach of which the law provides a remedy. ...

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Rationale behind the standard

The rationale for such a standard is that the law will benefit the general public when it serves its reasonable members, and thus a reasonable application of the law is sought, compatible with planning, working, or getting along with others. The reasonable person is not the average person: this is not a democratic measure. To predict the appropriate sense of responsibility and other standards of the reasonable man, ‘what is reasonable’ has to be appropriate to the issue. What the ‘average person’ thinks or might do is irrelevant to a case concerning medicine, for example. But the reasonable person is appropriately informed, capable, aware of the law, and fair-minded. Such a person might do something extraordinary in certain circumstances, but whatever that person does or thinks is always reasonable. The word responsibility means the obligation to answer for actions. ... Medicine is the branch of health science and the sector of public life concerned with maintaining human health or restoring it through the treatment of disease and injury. ...


Professional negligence: the reasonable doctor

In cases where professional opinions may be necessary the doctrine of the reasonable professional has developed. Thus if a doctor misdiagnoses a patient, the question is not, "Was that diagnosis wrong?" but rather, "Would a professional acting under the same circumstances, with the knowledge available to the field at the time of the diagnosis, have concluded that the given diagnosis was reasonable?" Questions about the knowledge of a professional in a particular discipline in a particular environment are relevant here, "Is the reasonable professional an expert or a general practitioner in this area?" Of course as with any legal concept these lines of reasoning may be applied differently in differing jurisdictions. In law, jurisdiction from the Latin jus, juris meaning law and dicere meaning to speak, is the practical authority granted to a formally constituted body or to a person to deal with and make pronouncements on legal matters and, by implication, to administer justice within a defined area of responsibility. ...


Reasonable bystander

A related notion, used in common law contract law, is that of a reasonable bystander or reasonable third party. It is also known as the objective theory of contract formation and it is distinguished from the subjective theory of contract formation that is accepted in most civil law jurisdictions. Sometimes, particularly in the context of verbal contracts, the existence of a contract is disputed because one party declares that there was no intention to be legally bound. Since it would be impractical for the court to try to determine the truth of this statement, it uses the following test instead: if the outward conduct of the parties would have indicated to a reasonable bystander a serious intention to enter into an agreement, then the contract is deemed legally binding. Another circumstance where the reasonable bystander is used occurs when one party has inadvertently misstated the terms of the contract, and the other party sues to enforce those terms: if it would have been clear to a reasonable bystander that a mistake had been made, then the contract is voidable by the party who made the error; otherwise, the contract is binding. This article concerns the common-law legal system, as contrasted with the civil law legal system; for other meanings of the term, within the field of law, see common law (disambiguation). ... A contract is a promise or an agreement that is enforced or recognized by the law. ... Template:Wiktionarypar objective Objective may be: Objective lens, an optical element in a camera or microscope. ... This is a disambiguation page — a navigational aid which lists other pages that might otherwise share the same title. ... Civil law has at least three meanings. ...


Some critical approaches to the reasonable person standard

The use of the term reasonable man has been criticized as being "sexist" by various feminist and critical legal studies theorists. This has led to the adoption of the term reasonable person in some jurisdictions. Feminism is a social theory and political movement primarily informed and motivated by the experience of women. ... Critical legal studies refers to a movement in legal thought that applied methods similar to those of critical theory (the Frankfurt School) to law. ...


Advocates of the reasonable person standard defend it as an exercise in approaching objectivity. Critics see it as another form of political correctness. Political correctness is the alteration of language to redress real or alleged injustices and discrimination or to avoid offense. ...


The jurist or legislator pretends to see through another's eyes, and in light of the characteristics of a given situation tries to subtract every petty human trait and unrealistic expectation, as a balancing test; to ask, for example, "Is the transaction cost of proposed conduct worth it in the hypothetical situation?" The problem, critics argue, is that this leaves no room for a heroic use of law. How can there be limits on efforts to prevent the negligent loss of life or limb, prejudiced in favor of a cold, economic calculus of loss, to determine when human life is "worth it"? In economics and related disciplines, a transaction cost is a cost incurred in making an economic exchange. ...


Satire

The legal humourist A. P. Herbert considered the concept of the Reasonable Man at length in the celebrated fictional case of Fardell v Potts, in which the learned Master of the Rolls remarked: Sir Alan Patrick Herbert (September 24, 1890 - November 11, 1971) was a British humorist, Member of Parliament, barrister, and novelist. ...

"He is one who invariably looks where he is going, and is careful to examine the immediate foreground before he executes a leap or bound; who neither star-gazes nor is lost in meditation when approaching trap-doors or the margin of a dock; who records in every case upon the counterfoils of cheques such ample details as are desirable, scrupulously substitutes the word 'Order' for the word 'Bearer', crosses the instrument 'a/c Payee only', and registers the package in which it is despatched; who never mounts a moving omnibus, and does not alight from any car while the train is in motion; who investigates exhaustively the bona fides of every mendicant [beggar] before distributing alms, and will inform himself of the history and habits of a dog before administering a caress; who believes no gossip, nor repeats it, without firm basis for believing it to be true; who never drives his ball till those in front of him have definitely vacated the putting-green which is his own objective; who never from one year's end to another makes an excessive demand upon his wife, his neighbours, his servants, his ox, or his ass; who in the way of business looks only for that narrow margin of profit which twelve men such as himself would reckon to be 'fair', contemplates his fellow-merchants, their agents, and their goods, with that degree of suspicion and distrust which the law deems admirable; who never swears, gambles, or loses his temper; who uses nothing except in moderation, and even while he flogs his child is meditating only on the golden mean.
"Devoid, in short, of any human weakness, with not one single saving vice, sans prejudice, procrastination, ill-nature, avarice, and absence of mind, as careful for his own safety as he is for that of others, this excellent but odious character stands like a monument in our Courts of Justice, vainly appealing to his fellow-citizens to order their lives after his own example.
"I have called him a myth; and, in so far as there are few, if any, of his mind and temperament to be found in the ranks of living men, the title is well chosen. But it is a myth which rests upon solid and even, it may be, upon permanent foundations. The Reasonable Man is fed and kept alive by the most valued andenduring of our juridical institutions-the common jury.
"Hateful as he must necessarily be to any ordinary citizen who privately considers him, it is a curious paradox that where two or three are gathered together in one place they will with one accord pretend an admiration for him; and, when they are gathered together in the formidable surroundings of a British jury, they are easily persuaded that they themselves are, each and generally, reasonable men.
"Without stopping to consider how strange a chance it must have been that has picked fortuitously from a whole people no fewer than twelve examples of a species so rare, they immediately invest themselves with the attributes of the Reasonable Man, and are therefore at one with the Courts in their anxiety to support the tradition that such a being in fact exists Thus it is that while the Economic Man has under the stress of modern conditions almost wholly disappeared from view his Reasonable cousin has gained in power with every case in which he has figured."

See also


  Results from FactBites:
 
negligence law, legal liability, failure to act, unreasonable risk of harm (3190 words)
In law, the reasonable person is not an average person or a typical person but a composite of the community's judgment as to how the typical community member should behave in situations that might pose a threat of harm to the public.
If a person engages in an activity requiring special skills, education, training, or experience, such as piloting an airplane, the standard by which his or her conduct is measured is the conduct of a reasonably skilled, competent, and experienced person who is a qualified member of the group authorized to engage in that activity.
Thus, a person may be found negligent for leaving a car unlocked with the keys in the ignition because of the foreseeable risk of theft, or for failing to slow down in the vicinity of a school yard where children might negligently run into the street.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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