Tort Law: Cases and Commentaries

2021 CanLIIDocs 1859,

Posted: 22 Sep 2021 Last revised: 8 Feb 2023

See all articles by Samuel Beswick

Samuel Beswick

Peter A. Allard School of Law, University of British Columbia

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Date Written: July 28, 2021


The law of obligations concerns the legal rights and duties owed between people. Three primary categories make up the common law of obligations: tort, contract, and unjust enrichment. This coursebook provides an introduction to tort law: the law that recognises and responds to civil wrongdoing. The material is arranged in two parts. Part I comprises §§1-11 and addresses intentional torts as well as the overarching theories and goals of tort law. Part II comprises §§12-24 and addresses the law of negligence, nuisance, and strict liability.

Themes canvassed within this coursebook include:

• Tort law is grounded in community standards and values.
• Rights of action in private law afford plaintiffs the right to sue.
• Our common law constitution assumes equality of all (including government officials) under law.
• The common law develops incrementally: precedent upon precedent.
• The common law is a conversation taking place over time within and between jurisdictions.

Notable illustrations of these themes include the High Court of Australia’s judgment in Binsaris v. Northern Territory (§2.2.4) recognising claims in battery and abuse of incarcerated indigenous youths; the Supreme Court of Canada’s judgment in R v. Le (§2.4.4) addressing police racial profiling, trespass, and false imprisonment; the opinion dissenting from the Supreme Court of the United States’ denial of certiorari in Baxter v. Bracey (§5.6.7) concerning the US doctrine of qualified immunity from tort liability for government officers; and the Ontario Court of Appeal’s judgment in Cloud v. Canada (§19.7.2) certifying a class action of First Nations residential school survivors’ claims in negligence, battery, and assault.

While primarily focusing on case law from Canadian courts, this coursebook incorporates judgments from foreign common law jurisdictions such as Hong Kong, India, and New Zealand, as well as extracts of commentaries from leading private law scholars.

Students may complete multiple-choice quizzes based on the coursebook content by visiting

Keywords: casebook, torts, trespass, negligence, novel duty of care, strict liability, remedies, theory, civil recourse, comparative, Canada, common law, Commonwealth, pedagogy, law school, open access

Suggested Citation

Beswick, Samuel, Tort Law: Cases and Commentaries (July 28, 2021). 2021 CanLIIDocs 1859,, Available at SSRN:

Samuel Beswick (Contact Author)

Peter A. Allard School of Law, University of British Columbia ( email )

1822 East Mall
Vancouver, British Columbia V6T 1Z1


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