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Chapter 3

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Valerie Irie

BU231 Chapter 3 – The Law of Torts Week 1 The Scope of Tort Law -The purpose of tort law is to compensate victims for harm caused by the activities of others -Tort – a wrongful act causing harm to the person or property of another -Usually punishment is left to the criminal law, if the conduct in question happens also to amount to a crime -A tort identifies a set of circumstances that creates a right to claim compensation -Tort law is one way of apportioning loss, along with other approaches such as insurance and government compensation schemes Development of the Tort Concept -Strict liability – liability that is imposed based upon causation regardless of fault -Gradually, the idea developed that a person should not be responsible for harm caused to another if he acted without fault -Early tort law evolved in two ways: the law took into account the fault of the defendant and it also took into account causation – whether the defendant’s conduct could be considered the cause of the harm -Both concepts, fault and causation, are at the heart of modern tort law The Basis for Liability Fault -Fault – unjustifiable injurious conduct that intentionally or carelessly disregards the interests of others -People will be more inclined to be careful if they must pay for the consequences of their carelessness -When fault is established, there is a tendency for the victim to be over-compensated, especially where the defendant is a large corporation and its conduct is considered particularly blameworthy Strict Liability -Strict liability persists in only a few areas of modern tort law Public Policy -Public policy – considerations or objectives that are considered beneficial to society as a whole -These standards force the law to adapt in many ways -No-fault insurance – a system of compulsory insurance that eliminates fault as a basis for claims -Workers’ compensation – a scheme in which employers contribute to a fund used to compensate workers injured in industrial accidents regardless of how the accident was caused -Under this scheme, industrial accidents are seen as the inevitable price of doing business Vicarious Liability -An employer will normally be held liable when at fault for an act committed by an employee: Ex. An employer may instruct an employee to perform a dangerous task for which he knows the employee is not trained. In such a case, the employer personally is at fault, and it may be that there is no fault on the part of the employee -Vicarious liability – the liability of an employer to compensate for torts committed by an employee during the course of his or her employee Intentional Torts -Torts are divided into two types: intentional and unintentional BU231 Chapter 3 – The Law of Torts Week 1 -Intentional torts are those where the activity or conduct is done deliberately, not by accident -Unintentional torts are those where the behaviour itself is accidental and not done deliberately -Trespass – unlawful entering, or remaining, on the land of another without permission Assault and Battery -Assault – the threat of violence to a person -Battery – unlawful physical contact with a person Nuisance -Public nuisance – interference with the lawful use of public amenities -Ex. Blocking public roads -Private nuisance – interference with an occupiers use and enjoyment of her land -Ex. Excessive noise -The term “occupier” includes not only the owner of land but tenants as well -The courts must weigh competing interests and consider two main issues: the degree of interference with the occupier’s use and enjoyment of the land, and the economic importance of the offending activity False Imprisonment and Malicious Prosecution -False imprisonment – unlawfully restraining or confining another person -False arrest – causing a person to be arrested without reasonable cause -It is not necessary that there be actual physical restraint, or even the threat that it will be applied: a reasonable fear that a store detective might shout “Stop, thief!” would be enough restraint to amount to an imprisonment -Malicious prosecution – causing a person to be prosecuted for a crime without an honest belief that the crime was committed Defamation -Defamation – making an untrue statement that causes injury to the reputation of another person -Libel – written defamation -Slander – spoken defamation -Absolute privilege – complete immunity from liability for defamation -Qualified privilege – immunity from liability for defamation provided a statement was made in good faith -Responsible Communication on Matters of Public Interest – a defence to defamation when the publication of the statement is in the public interest and was done responsibly -This new defence is broader and applied when the matter is of substantial concern to segments of the public and when inclusion of a defamatory statement is important for the fact that it was made, not its truth Other Intentional Torts Related to Business -There is a group of torts sometimes referred to collectively as “economic torts” that are of growing importance to the business community -Inducing a breach of contract- intentionally causing one party to breach his contract with another -Unlawful interference with economic relations – attempting by threats or other unlawful means to induce one person to discontinue business relations with another BU231 Chapter 3 – The Law of Torts Week 1 -Product defamation – making false and damaging statements about the products of another person -Passing off – representing one’s own goods as those of another Unintentional Torts -Involve behaviour that is not done deliberately or on purpose -The incident happens unexpectedly, by mistake or accident Negligence -Negligence – the careless causing of injury to the person or property of another Elements of Proof -Three requirements of a negligence action: 1. The defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care 2. The defendant breached the required standard of care 3. The defendant’s conduct caused injury or damage to the plaintiff 1. Duty of Care -Duty of care – a relationship so close tha
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