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The Clarendon Law Lecture Series

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The Gulbenkian Lecture Theatre

Faculty of Law, University of Oxford

St Cross Building, St Cross Road

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OX1 3UL

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THE CLARENDON LAW LECTURE SERIES


30th April, 1st May, and 2nd May - Click 'Register' to sign up for each of the lectures.


"THOUGHTS ON TORTS"


Professor Jane Stapleton DCL - Master of Christ’s College Cambridge, an Emeritus Fellow of Balliol College and an Emeritus Distinguished Professor of the Australian National University (ANU).




Series Abstract:

Periodically academia is swept with enthusiasm for a grand theory which describes tort law as being fundamentally “all about one thing”, like carrot purée. This series of lectures explores a different type of scholarship, one that places at centre stage what judges do and say, and how they understand their role. Such scholarship is capable of both smoothly absorbing legal change signalled by courts and influencing courts with its insights, so it is convenient to describe it as “reflexive tort scholarship”.



LECTURE 1 (30/04/18) - “Taking the Judges Seriously”

Lecture 1 looks generally at this technique while the following lectures present detailed examples of where it can lead. It is because of its tight focus on judicial reasoning that reflexive tort scholarship is so well placed to assist judges, and indeed to collaborate with them in the process of the common law’s development. The theme of this series of lectures is that this is at least as thrilling a prospect for a young legal scholar as any offered by grand tort theories.




LECTURE 2 (01/05/18) - “Tort law’s Cooperation Principle and Commercial Arrangements”

In Lecture 2 reflexive scholarship is used to excavate an inchoate principle of wide significance in tort law. It will argue that a tort-law principle of cooperation plays a vital role in supporting commercial arrangements.

Because they are developed by a single set of judicial institutions, it is to be expected and hoped that the various areas of the common law of obligations will reflect a high level of coherence. It is well accepted that contract law seeks to support cooperative human arrangements. Less well appreciated, especially by commercial lawyers, is that inherent in tort law there is a parallel principle of support for cooperative human arrangements, which is conveniently labelled “tort’s cooperation principle”. Identification of this tort principle and its associated concerns is important: for the coherence of private law in general; for understanding the entitlements, inter se, of non-privy participants in commercial arrangements in particular; and for highlighting a long-standing discontinuity in doctrinal outcomes. It is only by taking seriously what judges say and decide that the principle of cooperation can be clearly identified and understood.




LECTURE 3 (02/05/18) - “Causes and Consequences in the Common Law”

A set of pivotal analytical questions in law which Bench, Bar and Academia have found especially challenging concern: the legal concept of causation; orthodox and unorthodox approaches to proof of causation; and the appropriate limits of legal responsibility for the consequences of conduct falling foul of a legal rule. The complex substance of these central concepts of the common law has been addressed in most detail and most transparently in tort cases.

Lecture 3 demonstrates the power of reflexive tort scholarship, with its focus on taking what judges say and decide seriously, to bring clarity and rigour to our understanding of these key issues. This is of great benefit not only in tort law but also in the common law more generally and in the interpretation of statutory provisions that utilise common law concepts.

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The Gulbenkian Lecture Theatre

Faculty of Law, University of Oxford

St Cross Building, St Cross Road

Oxford

OX1 3UL

United Kingdom

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