Causa Proxima, Non Remota Spectatur – Legal Maxim

Literal Meaning

The immediate, and not the remote cause is to be considered.

Explanation

Causa proxima, non remota spectator is a Latin phrase which literally translates into ‘the immediate and not the remote cause are to be considered.’ Whenever the cause of any act or circumstance is need to be understood the immediate cause needs to be looked at and not the remote cause. This maxim of causation is applicable for both marine and general insurance. It is the law which gives emphasis to the immediate cause and not the remote occurrence of events.

Origin

The maxim Causa Proxima, Non Remota Spectatur is used to describe the proximate, not the remote, cause which should be considered. In other words it aims at making the cause nearest in the order of the incident or the action to be considered as the causation. It states that the direct cause of action should be considered without any efficient concurring cause to produce the result.

Illustration

In cases of dying declaration only the statements which leads to the cause of death of the person making such statements are said to be admitted under section 32 of the Indian evidence act. 

Case Reference

In the case of in Spaight v. Tedcastle[1] it was pointed out that “great injustice might be done, if in applying the doctrine of contributory negligence to a case of this sort the maxim causa proxima non remota spectatur were lost sight of. When the direct and immediate cause of damage is clearly proved to be the fault of the defendant, contributory negligence by the plaintiffs cannot be established merely by shewing that if those in charge of the ship had in some earlier state of navigation taken a course, or exercised a control over the course taken by the tug, which they did not actually take or exercise, a different situation would have resulted, in which the same danger might not have occurred. Such an omission ought not to be regarded as contributory negligence if it might in the circumstances which actually happened have been unattended with danger but for the defendant’s fault, and if it had no proper connexion as a cause with the damage which followed as its effect.

In P. Krishna Menon v Commissioner of Income[2] it was found that the imparting of the teaching was the CAUSA CAUSANS (the immediate cause) of making of gifts by the disciple. This was the minimum and proximate cause. It is a well known dictum of law that Causa Proxima Non Remota Spectatur (The proximate cause and not the remote one must be regarded). In the present case making profit out of the publication activity was not CAUSA CAUSANS. ‘Causa causans’ denotes anything operating to produce an effect. Thus it is said Causa Causantis Causa Est Causati (the cause of the thing causing is the cause of the thing caused). “Causa Causans” is supposed to mean a cause which causes, while “causa sine qua non” means a cause which does not in the sense material to the particular case, cause, but is merely an incident which precedes in the history or narrative of events. As such the ratio laid down in the aforesaid cases cannot be applied in the facts of the present case.

In Trim Joint District School Board of Management v. Kelly[3] where an assistant master at an industrial school was assaulted and killed by two of the pupils while the assistant master was performing his duties, the House of Lords held that his death was caused by an accident for the purpose of the same statute. Viscount Haldane, L.C. pointed out that the meaning of the term “accident” would vary according as the context varies, and as instances mentioned criminal jurisprudence where crime and accident are sharply divided by the presence or absence of mens rea and the law of marine insurance where the maxim: In jure none remote caused sed proxima spectator (In law he proximate, and not the remote, cause is to be regarded) applies.

Edited by Vigneshwar Ramasubramania

Approved & Published – Sakshi Raje

Reference:

[1] Spaight v. Tedcastle, 881 (6) A. C. 217

[2]P. Krishna Menon v Commissioner of Incom, AIR 1959 SC 75

[3] Management v. Kelly, [1914] 4 WLUK 10

 

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I am Kousini Gupta, final year BBA.LLB. student from Symbiosis Law School, Hyderabad. The topics in Constitutional, Intellectual Property, Entertainment and Media Law excite me in particular and bring out the best in me. I have interned at District Court, High Court and several reputed law firms. The experience of these internships was highly valuable and enriching. My research and publications have been accepted in reputed national journals. Besides, I also enjoy mooting and have several participation certificates to my credit. In my free time, I like to be creative with paintings and dance to my favourite tunes.