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Putting Gender on the Damages Agenda: Michael Chesterman's Contribution to Accident Compensation

LEGAL EXPLORATIONS: ESSAYS HONOUR OF PROFESSOR MICHAEL CHESTERMAN, Kam Fan Sin, ed., pp. 139-154, 2003

Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 08/68

22 Pages Posted: 23 Jul 2008  

Reg Graycar

The University of Sydney Law School

Date Written: 2003

Abstract

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.

Keywords: tort law, accident compensation, personal injury, women's work, gender, damages assessment, caring work, law reform

JEL Classification: K10, K13, K20, J16

Suggested Citation

Graycar, Reg, Putting Gender on the Damages Agenda: Michael Chesterman's Contribution to Accident Compensation (2003). LEGAL EXPLORATIONS: ESSAYS HONOUR OF PROFESSOR MICHAEL CHESTERMAN, Kam Fan Sin, ed., pp. 139-154, 2003; Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 08/68. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1170056

Reg Graycar (Contact Author)

The University of Sydney Law School ( email )

New Law Building, F10
The University of Sydney
Sydney, NSW 2006
Australia

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