The Contributory Negligence Act at Seventy
78(1) Saskatchewan Law Review 31-126
96 Pages Posted: 10 May 2015
Date Written: 2015
The year 2014 marks the seventieth anniversary of Saskatchewan's Contributory Negligence Act, which, in its present form, provides for the apportionment of liability according to fault in a tort action and the rights of those at fault to seek contribution inter se for amounts paid to a successful plaintiff.
In human life, 70 is a respectable age to celebrate, reflect on, and recount one’s life — perhaps not even too late an age to reform oneself. As in life, so with statutes. What are the Act’s vital statistics? What are the factors that gave rise to its birth? Who are the people who have interacted with it? How has it fared through childhood, youth, adulthood, and middle age and what are its prospects for its more mature years? In light of changes recommended over many decades by the Uniform Law Conference of Canada and law reform bodies in Alberta, Ontario, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia, and Manitoba, is it time to entertain change?
By asking and attempting to answer these questions, we will be heeding a call by UK scholars Arvind and Steele to redress the dearth of scholarly attention paid to legislation in tort law — to take up their challenge of seeing statutes not just as “operating at the margins of the common law…[but] as contributing to the pattern of principles to be found in the law.”
Keywords: tort law, negligence, legislation
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