Central Issues in the Law of Tort Defences
Andrew Dyson, James Goudkamp and Frederick Wilmot-Smith, 'Central Issues in the Law of Tort Defences' in Andrew Dyson, James Goudkamp and Frederick Wilmot-Smith (eds), 'Defences in Tort' (Hart Publishing, Oxford, 2014) ch 1.
22 Pages Posted: 12 Sep 2014 Last revised: 2 Mar 2016
Date Written: 2015
This chapter is an introduction to an edited collection on “Defences in Tort”, which is the first in a series of collections investigating defences in private law. This chapter is in three principal sections, though the sections are neither exhaustive nor hermetically sealed. We first examine what a defence actually is. We begin this section by considering a conundrum that pervades this field, namely whether it is possible to separate the definition of a defence from the consequences of something being a defence. We then consider the two main ways in which scholars have tried to understand the concept of a defence. In the second principal section of the chapter we turn to some general questions that the study of defences throws up across private law. Themes addressed here include the interplay between causes of action and defences, the tendency for the law to evolve defences that apply in tightly-confined situations rather than defences that are potentially generally applicable, the implications of defences for major theoretical accounts of tort law and the connection between statutes and defences. Finally, we draw out some themes and defences that are most commonly associated with the criminal law, such as the distinction between justifications and excuses, which may also be of relevance to private law theorists.
Keywords: tort law, defences, corrective justice, civil recourse, rights theory, limitation, necessity, duress, justification, excuse
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