Contributory Negligence in the Twenty‐First Century: An Empirical Study of First Instance Decisions

48 Pages Posted: 6 Jul 2016

See all articles by James Goudkamp

James Goudkamp

University of Oxford - Faculty of Law

Donal Nolan

University of Oxford - Faculty of Law

Date Written: July 2016

Abstract

In this article we report the results of an empirical study of 368 first instance decisions on the contributory negligence doctrine handed down in England and Wales between 2000 and 2014. The two central questions at which we looked were: how often a defendant's plea of contributory negligence was successful; and by how much a claimant's damages were reduced when a finding of contributory negligence was made. We also considered the extent to which the answers to these questions depended on the following variables: the claimant's age; the claimant's gender; the type of damage suffered by the claimant; the contextual setting of the claim; and the year of the decision. Our study uncovered several important truths about the contributory negligence doctrine hidden in this mass of case law, some of which cast significant doubt on the accuracy of widely held views about the doctrine's operation.

Suggested Citation

Goudkamp, James and Nolan, Donal, Contributory Negligence in the Twenty‐First Century: An Empirical Study of First Instance Decisions (July 2016). The Modern Law Review, Vol. 79, Issue 4, pp. 575-622, 2016; Oxford Legal Studies Research Paper No. 61/2017. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2803644 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1468-2230.12202

James Goudkamp (Contact Author)

University of Oxford - Faculty of Law ( email )

St Cross Building
St Cross Road
Oxford, OX1 3UL
United Kingdom

Donal Nolan

University of Oxford - Faculty of Law ( email )

Worcester College
Oxford, OX1 2HB
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://www.law.ox.ac.uk/people/donal-nolan

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