A series of workshops is being convened in Oxford regarding ‘defences’ to civil liability. Defences are a vitally important part of the law of civil liability because they frequently determine how much compensation (if any) a victim of a civil wrong can recover from the wrongdoer. For instance, should the compensation paid to a cyclist who is negligently knocked down by a motorist be reduced because the cyclist was not wearing a helmet? Should a journal or newspaper be able to rely on a defence of responsible journalism if they publish an article that (despite careful research) contains defamatory statements?

To date, defences to civil liability have not been studied systematically as a single field of research. Experts on one type of defence rarely engage directly with experts working on other types of defences. The workshops aim to bring researchers together to develop a new international network that will consider the links between defences and examine how the defences impact on the limits of civil liability as a whole. We wish to examine defences across all of the four main branches of civil liability: torts; contract; equitable wrongs; and unjust enrichment. The papers that will be delivered at each workshop will be published in four separate edited collections (one for each workshop) by Hart Publishing.

The first workshop was held in January 2014 at All Souls College and the focus was on defences in tort. A second workshop was held in January 2015, concentrating on unjust enrichment. Contract law defences were treated in the third workshop, which took place in January 2016. In January 2017, the fourth and final workshop, concerned with defences in equity, will be held.

 

Three books have resulted from the series of workshops so far.

 

Publications

  • A Dyson, James Goudkamp and F Wilmot-Smith (eds), Defences in Tort (Hart Publishing 2015)
    This book is the first in a series of essay collections on defences in private law. It addresses defences to liability arising in tort. The essays range from those adopting a primarily doctrinal approach to others that examine the law from a more theoretical or historical perspective. Some essays focus on individual defences, while some are concerned with the links between defences, or with how defences relate to the structure of tort law as a whole. A number of the essays also draw upon concepts and literature that have been developed mainly in relation to the criminal law and consider their application to tort law. The essays make several original contributions to this complex, important but neglected field of academic enquiry.
  • A Dyson, James Goudkamp and F Wilmot-Smith (eds), Defences in Unjust Enrichment (Hart Publishing 2016)
    This book is the second in a series of essay collections on defences in private law. It addresses defences to liability arising in unjust enrichment. The essays are written from a range of perspectives and methodologies. Some are doctrinal, others are theoretical, and several offer comparative insights. The most important defence in this area of the law, change of position, is addressed in detail, but many other defences are treated too, as well as the interrelations between these defences within the law of unjust enrichment. The essays offer novel claims and ways of looking at problems in this challenging area of legal study.
  • P Davies, S Douglas and James Goudkamp (eds), Defences in Equity (Hart Publishing 2018) (forthcoming)
  • A Dyson, James Goudkamp and F Wilmot-Smith (eds), Defences in Contract (Hart Publishing 2016)
    This book is the third in a series of essay collections on defences in private law. It addresses defences to liability arising in contract. The essays range from those adopting a predominantly black-letter approach to others that examine the law from a more theoretical or historical perspective. Some essays focus on individual defences, while some are concerned with the links between defences, or with how defences relate to the structure of contract law generally. One goal of the book is to determine what light can be shed on contract law doctrines by analysing them through the lens of defences. Many scholars are unaccustomed to thinking of defences to contract law and so fresh light is shed on an old topic. The essays make several original contributions to this complex, important but neglected field of academic enquiry. The contributors – judges and academics – are all leading jurists. The essays are addressed to all of the major common law jurisdictions. - See more at: http://www.bloomsburyprofessional.com/uk/defences-in-contract-9781509902132/#sthash.XlMSQNyQ.dpuf

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