Law and system

Tort Law is a subject with which many law students enjoy engaging. The scenarios which give rise to tort actions are often ones which we all have had experience with, such as the traffic accident leading to a claim in negligence. Some of us may have had the bad luck to be the victim of a medical mishap, fallen on a slippery floor in a supermarket or involved in a neighbour dispute - all of which may involve tort law.

The Oxford University Press ‘Directions’ series endeavours to make the study of this fascinating area of law as accessible as possible. My style of writing aims for simplicity and clarity, as does the design and layout of the book. I strongly recommend that you acquaint yourself with the range of resources, both in the textbook and also in the Online Resources which will be made available to you. I will not list all of the them here but I particularly want to point out the features at the end of each chapter: the ‘Bigger Picture’ and ‘Further Reading’. Reading at least some of these recommendations of deeper and more analytical approaches will enhance your knowledge as well as improving your chances for good exam outcomes.

There are ‘Thinking Points’ within each chapter and knowledge-testing questions at the end of each. By engaging with these, you will be able to reflect on your comprehension and assimilation of the chapter content. For exam preparation there are sample problem and essay questions for you to attempt. There is also a valuable bank of multiple choice questions available in the online resources

Cases and statutes

These are the ‘primary sources’ of law and the essential tools for all lawyers. It is important not to be overwhelmed by the sheer amount of case law, while at the same time giving due attention to those which are essential for mastering this subject. The ‘Case Close-up’ feature will give you a clear indication of which are the most important cases to learn thoroughly. Statute law is not pervasively significant in tort law, although there are some areas in which it is crucial, such as Occupiers’ Liability and Product Liability.

The United Kingdom was an original signatory of the post-WW2 European Convention on Human Rights and since then the provisions of the Convention have had an impact on our law. However it was after the passage of the Human Rights Act 1998 that the rights and freedoms enshrined in the European Convention effectively became part of the law of the UK.

For tort law, the most relevant articles are:

  • Article 2 - right to life;
  • Article 3 - right to freedom from inhuman and degrading treatment;
  • Article 5 - right to liberty and security;
  • Article 6 - right to a fair trial;
  • Article 8 - right to respect for private and family life;
  • And Article 10 - right to freedom of expression.

Their influence on the development of tort law is seen in the topics of trespass to the person, negligence, and in defamation.

I suggest that you attain a good level of awareness of current events through broadcast media such as radio and television, as well as print and online news outlets. This way you’ll gain awareness of the way that tort, and indeed all of law, pervades all aspects of life.