torts of law 1 1

Topics: Tort, Common law, Strict liability Pages: 101 (15486 words) Published: June 10, 2015
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Chapter 1
What is tort law?
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Key points In this chapter we will be looking at:
What a tort is
What kinds of activity tort law covers
How torts compare to crimes and

Some practical issues in tort law
Tort and fault
The relationship between tort law and
human rights law
The way the tort system operates in
personal injury cases

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breaches of contract
How tort law is made

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Introduction

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Imagine a young man, who we will call James, is
walking along the street one day, when he is run
over by a car. The car is driven by Ted, who is talking
on his mobile phone and not really concentrating on
his driving. James suffers a serious head injury that
permanently affects his powers of thinking and concentration and, as a result, he cannot go back to his well-paid job as a computer programmer. You probably know that dangerous driving is a criminal offence, so Ted may be prosecuted and, if convicted,

fined or even sent to prison. But where does that
leave James? Ted’s carelessness has not only caused
him serious pain and suffering but also financial
loss, since at best he can only do a less well-paid
job, and may even be unable to work at all. That is
where tort law comes in. It offers a way for James to
get compensation both for the pain and suffering,
and for the financial loss, by suing Ted. Whereas the
criminal law aims to punish wrongdoers on behalf of
society, tort law aims to compensate the person who
has suffered wrongdoing.

However, tort law does not only deal with car accidents, or even only with people who are physically injured. Just as there are lots of different crimes cover­
ing different types of activity and harm, there are lots
of different torts too, covering a wide range of different
situations where one person (or organisation) has
caused harm to another or infringed their legal rights.
Just to give a few examples, the tort of defamation
can provide a remedy if a newspaper publishes some­
thing untrue about you that damages your reputation, the tort of nuisance can give you a claim if your neighbour keeps very smelly pigs and the smell
means you cannot enjoy sitting out in your garden,
and the tort of trespass to the person can help if a
doctor operates on you without your permission.
This book looks at 13 of the most important torts,
and each one provides a set of rules under which
the person wronged can make a claim against the
person who is alleged to have done wrong.
When a claim is made in tort, the person who has
been wronged is known as the claimant, and the

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Defining what a tort is

you are writing about tort is that if the claimant
wins their case, the defendant is described as being
‘liable’ for the tort, rather than ‘guilty of’ it; the term ‘guilty’ is only used in criminal law.

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person alleged to have done wrong is known as the
defendant. You may also see the person alleged
to have done wrong referred to as the tortfeasor, an
old term which simply means someone who has
committed a tort. One other thing to remember when

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Defining what a tort is

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Academics have been trying for many years to pin down a precise definition of a tort, but it has proved quite difficult to come up with one description that covers every kind of tort. As already explained, a tort is a wrong committed by one party against another, but not every kind of wrong will be a tort. This is because the basis of tort law is that we all have interests which the law should protect. These include our own personal security, our physical health, our finances, our reputations and any...
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