Putting Gender on the Damages Agenda: Michael Chesterman's Contribution to Accident Compensation
University of Sydney - Faculty of Law
LEGAL EXPLORATIONS: ESSAYS HONOUR OF PROFESSOR MICHAEL CHESTERMAN, Kam Fan Sin, ed., pp. 139-154, 2003
Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 08/68
Professor Michael Chesterman was among the first scholars to address questions about gender and more broadly, the meaning of 'work' in the context of personal injury damages assessment. In his 1983 research paper, commissioned by the New South Wales Law Reform Commission as part of its inquiry into Accident Compensation, he made two key contributions: first, he argued strongly in favour of abandoning earnings-related compensation and moving away from lump sum payments; and, secondly, he proposed compensating losses suffered by 'non-earners' (mostly, but by no means exclusively, 'homemakers'). This essay explores and draws upon the issues raised by Chesterman and reviews how if at all these themes have been developed in the decades that followed this path-breaking work. Despite some initial advances in recognising the value of work not traditionally seen as having economic value, and in creating a head of damages recognising the caring work done (usually by women) for accident victims, (Griffiths v Kerkemeyer damages), substantial inroads have been made on these heads of damages. Decades after Chesterman's pioneering work, we are still debating how women's work, particularly their work outside the paid labour market, should be recognised in the context of schemes that compensate accident victims.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 22
Keywords: tort law, accident compensation, personal injury, women's work, gender, damages assessment, caring work, law reform
JEL Classification: K10, K13, K20, J16
Date posted: July 23, 2008
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