In the absence of available scientific data, great difficulty is likely to arise when assessing the existence of a causal link between a negligent behaviour and a harm. Scientific uncertainty often makes it impossible for courts to give a straightforward answer about the finding of liability. The concept of causation is at the centre of important conceptual hurdles. In many legal systems, a significant amount of research has been conducted to determine an accurate definition and find an appropriate test for causation, whereas the context of scientific uncertainty in itself is often set aside. One way of facilitating the resolution of cases of uncertain causation would however be to emphasize the meaning of scientific uncertainty. The main reason lawyers should take an interest in scientific uncertainty as a preliminary step to solving complex causation issues is to avoid the confusion between actual and legitimate scientific doubt and junk science. This presentation will explore ways to distinguish true scientific uncertainties from popular misconceptions and myths in the perspective of finding legal causation.
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Please note that IECL discussion group meetings are normally open only to researchers affiliated with the IECL or member of the Oxford Law Faculty. If you have a special interest in one of the topics being discussed and would like to request being admitted to the event as an outside guest attendee, please get in touch with Professor Birke Häcker in advance of the meeting.