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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, both with respect to the reading of cases and the interpretation of legislation. In substantive terms, the focus will be on a core area within the law of torts, negligence law. While traditionally a domain of the common law, the contemporary law of torts, and especially negligence, has increasingly received a great deal of attention from the legislature. This provides an exciting and challenging opportunity to investigate in considerable detail the interaction (and, at times, tensions) between judge-made and statute law. In addressing this interaction, close attention will be paid to the various (and, at times, competing) functions and objectives of tort law.
Topics considered in this subject (with varying degrees of depth) include:
- Features of tort law: classifications and definitions;
- Aims of tort law: the changing nature of tort law (including the Ipp Panel ‘reforms’ and human rights norms (where relevant);
- Causes of action: trespass to land (intentional tort);
- Cause of action: the tort of private nuisance;
- Cause of action: the tort of negligence (carelessness): in detail;
- Causes of action: assault and battery (intentional torts);
- Remedies: damages assessment;
- Statute-based strict liability: the Australian Consumer Law and the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth) (time permitting); and
- State-based compensation schemes (referred to throughout).
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: 29 April 2020