In the judgements of McGhee and Fairchild, the distinction between factual causation and legal causation has been obscured. It is argued that the material contribution test has altered the path of the law. I believe this to be correct. The material contribution test for legal causation has become a tool that can be adapted to allow the plaintiff to recover even when the sine qua non rule cannot be applied and when cause-in-fact fails to be established.
Usually to establish causation, the cause of the injury must be identified by applying the “but for” test. The material contribution test is applied when there are multiple causes and it cannot be proved as a matter of fact what was the single cause of the injury. The main questions are, is the need to prove a material contribution distinct from the “but for” test for factual causation and how has the material contribution test changed the interpretation of the law? In both McGhee and Fairchild, these tests for causation are somewhat blurred and the question of circumstances and interpretation of these tests arise.
(II) McGhee v National Coal Board:
In McGhee v National Coal Board, Mr McGhee was employed by the National Coal Board for around fifteen years, and spent the majority of his time working in pipe kilns. On one occasion he worked in a brick kiln, but ceased working here after four and a half days due to his development of dermatitis. The defendant was in breach of duty, in that no showering or