The Uneasy Place of Principle in Tort Law

George C. Christie

in The Philosophical Foundations of Tort Law

Published in print July 1997 | ISBN: 9780198265795
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191682971 | DOI:
The Uneasy Place of Principle in Tort Law

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Lawyers have always had the urge to find some coherent logical structure in the law. One recalls Sir Edward Coke’s assertion that the common law is ‘an artificial perfection of reason, gotten by long study, observation, and experience’. In the last 30 years, however, there has been an increased interest among scholars, judges, and practicing lawyers concerned with the law of torts to find the principles that underlie that law. Recent experience brings to mind a number of such normative principles which have been urged upon the profession by scholars and judges. To see why someone might be tempted to make this observation, it will be useful to examine some of these well-known recent attempts to subject tort law to the discipline of principles. One preliminary observation is that many of the objections to the use of particular principles in the decision of tort cases arise from oversimplified characterisations of the facts of particular cases that end up making legal disputes into verbal disputes.

Keywords: lawyers; tort law; Edward Coke; torts; normative principles; common law; legal disputes; verbal disputes

Chapter.  9392 words. 

Subjects: Jurisprudence and Philosophy of Law

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