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This subject explores a core area of private law: the law of torts. It builds upon skills introduced in the foundational subject, Legal Method and Reasoning, with respect to the interpretation and application of both cases and statutes. The majority of the subject will focus on the tort of negligence. While traditionally a domain of the common law, the law of torts (especially negligence) has increasingly received attention from the legislature in all Australian states and territories. This area of law therefore provides an exciting and challenging opportunity to investigate the interaction (and, at times, tensions) between judge-made law and legislation. In addressing this interaction, students will consider the functions and objectives of tort law.
Topics considered in this subject include:
- Aims and development of tort law in comparison to alternative approaches and statutory schemes;
- Trespass to land;
- Trespass to the person: assault, battery, and false imprisonment;
- Negligence, in detail (legally recognisable harms; duty of care; breach of duty; causation);
- Defences to torts: voluntary assumption of risk; contributory negligence;
- The allocation of losses including vicarious liability; and
- The calculation of damages (compensation) for personal injury.
Intended learning outcomes
The aim of this subject is to provide students with the foundations for an advanced and integrated understanding of the law of torts, with a particular emphasis on negligence law.
It is expected that on completion of this subject students should have specialist cognitive and technical skills to independently:
- Research and identify relevant principles in statutes and cases;
- Apply those principles to complex fact situations in order to reach well-reasoned conclusions about the rights and obligations of the various parties;
- Develop creative and well-founded arguments in which the relevant principles could be applied to novel fact situations and research questions;
- Critically analyse and evaluate various tort doctrines or principles from a range of perspectives;
- Critically analyse and evaluate the effectiveness of tort law in fulfilling its aims; and
- Communicate analysis, arguments and conclusions concerning tort law clearly and effectively in written form, incorporating appropriate citation practices.
On completion of the subject, students should have developed the cognitive, technical and creative skills to demonstrate:
- An approach to problem solving that is both well founded in established legal thinking and sufficiently creative to allow for existing boundaries to be tested and pushed;
- The ability to generate and evaluate sophisticated ideas about the role and functioning of tort law; and
- The ability to analyse and explain how compensation ideals affect legal thinking and practice in tort law.
Last updated: 5 February 2024