This module will explore in detail the principal causes of action which comprise the subject of Torts. A considerable part of the module is devoted to the most-commonly pleaded cause of action in the common law world, the tort of negligence. The module deals with the key principles underpinning the negligence action, and also examines particular manifestations of negligence, such as acts or omissions giving rise to pure economic loss and pure psychiatric injury, or damages arising out of a public authority’s acts or omissions, to name but a few. The module also covers other important torts such as those of private and public nuisance, defamation, and Rylands v Fletcher. The principles governing vicarious liability will also be examined in some detail, given its significance for the ‘compensation principle’.
In addition, students are challenged throughout the module to consider wider issues, such as: whether the aims and purposes of a compensation-redress system are adequately met by a fault-based regime; the extent (if any) to which behaviour modification should be a legitimate aim of tort law; and the extent (if any) to which some torts may tend toward strict liability. The module will also consider various (often controversial) ways in which statute has encroached in recent years to adjust the ability of claimants to recover for alleged tortuous wrongdoing.
Occasionally, references will be made to comparative perspectives (where other major common law jurisdictions have chosen to depart from the English position), and to various reform measures proposed in this jurisdiction by which to handle particularly difficult areas of tort (eg, in the areas of negligently-inflicted pure psychiatric illness).
Given the ‘black letter law’ nature of the subject of Torts, the ability to apply Torts principles to various fact situations, so as to provide a legally coherent, logical and defensible analysis of the likely outcome, is given particular emphasis. To that end, tutorials will provide students with plenty of practice problems by which to hone this ability.
80 per cent exam and 20 per cent oral case law assessment exercise