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Causation and Health in Medical, Environmental and Product Liability

17 Pages Posted: 21 Apr 2011 Last revised: 18 Jun 2015

Lara Khoury

McGill University - Faculty of Law

Date Written: 2007


Scientific uncertainty affecting the demonstration of the causal link in medical, environmental, and product liability often proves fatal to plaintiffs’ claims for judicial compensation of their personal injuries. Responding to this challenge, the tribunals of several legal traditions have relaxed their application of the traditional rules of causation and evidence. Others refuse to do so, however, despite the resulting adverse impact on the victims’ chances of obtaining compensation for their injuries. This text examines the French and Québec civil law courts’ willingness to adapt rules of evidence and causation to respond to causal uncertainty in cases involving injuries to human health allegedly caused by medical acts, environmental pollution or defective products. It studies how this desire has expressed itself across these disciplines, but also how it differs depending on the civil law jurisdiction concerned. Ultimately, this paper defends the idea that a more flexible approach aimed at assisting victims in facing causal uncertainty should be adopted by the courts of both jurisdictions when dealing with product and environmental liability cases.

Suggested Citation

Khoury, Lara, Causation and Health in Medical, Environmental and Product Liability (2007). Windsor Yearbook of Access to Justice, Vol. 25, No. 1, 2007. Available at SSRN:

Lara Khoury (Contact Author)

McGill University - Faculty of Law ( email )

3644 Peel Street
Montreal H3A 1W9, Quebec

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