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Address

Worcester College

Walton Street, Oxford OX1 2HB, UK

Phone

01865 278341

Biography

Donal Nolan is Professor of Private Law in the University of Oxford and Francis Reynolds and Clarendon Fellow and Tutor in Law at Worcester College, Oxford. He was educated at Brasenose College, Oxford (BA and BCL) and was previously a Lecturer in Law at King's College London. He has taught tort, contract, international trade law, restitution and commercial law, and has been a Visiting Professor in the Universities of Florida and Trento. He is currently a Senior Fellow of the University of Melbourne, and a member of the International Advisory Panel for the American Law Institute's planned Restatement of the Law Fourth, Property.

Donal's research is focused primarily on the law of tort, and in particular on the law of negligence, the law of private nuisance and the interface between tort law and public law. He has also written on a range of topics in contract law, including offer and acceptance, estoppel and termination for breach of contract. Recent publications include: 'Preventive Damages' (2016) 132 LQR 68; 'Nuisance, Planning and Regulation: The Limits of Statutory Authority' in Dyson, Goudkamp and Wilmot-Smith (eds), The Limits of Liability: Defences in Tort Law (Hart Publishing, 2015); 'A Critique of Chester v Afshar' (2014) 34 OJLS 659 (with Tamsyn Clark); 'Damage in the English Law of Negligence' (2013) 4 JETL 259; 'Varying the Standard of Care in Negligence' [2013] CLJ 651; and 'Deconstructing the Duty of Care' (2013) 129 LQR 559. Donal is a contributor to Burrows (ed), English Private Law (OUP, 3rd edn, 2013); Oliphant (ed), The Law of Tort (Reed Elsevier (UK), 3rd edn, 2015); and Sappideen and Vines (eds), Fleming's The Law of Torts (Thomson Reuters (Professional) Australia, 10th edn, 2011). He is also the co-editor of Rights and Private Law (Hart Publishing, 2012) and of OSCOLA, the Oxford University Standard for Citation of Legal Authorities (www.law.ox.ac.uk/publications/oscola.php).

Position Description

Professor of Private Law

Publications

Displaying 1 - 58 of 58. Sorted by year, then title.
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  • Donal Nolan, 'Rights, Damage and Loss' (2016) Oxford Journal of Legal Studies
    DOI: 10.1093/ojls/gqw018
    This article is an exploration of the relationship between the concepts of rights, damage and loss. The focus of the analysis is on the law of negligence, though some of the claims have wider ramifications. The article is divided into three main sections: first, on the relationship between rights and damage; second, on the relationship between rights and loss; and third, on the relationship between damage and loss. In each section, a separate, but related, claim is made: (i) that a concept of damage is a necessary component of a plausible rights-based conception of negligence law; (ii) that a right not to suffer loss is conceptually impossible; and (iii) that damage and loss are fundamentally different concepts.
  • Donal Nolan and James Goudkamp, 'Contributory Negligence in the Twenty-First Century: An Empirical Study of First Instance Decisions' (2016) 79 Modern Law Review 575
    DOI: 10.1111/1468-2230.12202
    In this article we report the results of an empirical study of 368 first instance decisions on the contributory negligence doctrine handed down in England and Wales between 2000 and 2014. The two central questions considered were: how often a defendant’s plea of contributory negligence was successful; and by how much a claimant’s damages were reduced when a finding of contributory negligence was made. We also considered the extent to which the answers to these questions depended on the following variables: the claimant’s age; the claimant’s gender; the type of damage suffered by the claimant; the contextual setting of the claim; and the year of the decision. Our study uncovered several important truths about the contributory negligence doctrine hidden in this mass of case law, some of which cast significant doubt on the accuracy of widely held views about the doctrine’s operation.
  • Donal Nolan, 'A History of Tort Law 1900-1950' (2015) 54 Irish Jurist 187 [Review]
  • Donal Nolan, 'Chapters on Government Liability, Product Liability, Nuisance and Rylands v Fletcher and Fire' in Ken Oliphant (ed), The Law of Tort (3rd edn) (Reed Elsevier (UK) 2015)
    ISBN: 9781405763448
  • Donal Nolan, 'Nuisance, Planning and Regulation: The Limits of Statutory Authority' in A Dyson, J Goudkamp and F Wilmot-Smith (eds), The Limits of Liability: Defences in Tort Law (Hart Publishing 2015)
  • Tamsyn Clark and Donal Nolan, 'A Critique of Chester v Afshar' (2014) 34 Oxford Journal of Legal Studies 659
    DOI: 10.1093/ojls/gqu019
    Our aim in this article is to provide a counterbalance to the substantial body of academic opinion supportive of the decision in the medical non-disclosure case of Chester v Afshar [2004] UKHL 41, [2005] 1 AC 134, while at the same time identifying some misconceptions that have arisen about the case. Our critique is consistent with the reasoning of the High Court of Australia in its recent decision in Wallace v Kam [2013] HCA 19, (2013) 87 ALJR 648. The article is divided into three sections. In the first section, we argue that the decision in Chester was a departure from orthodox negligence principles. In the second section, we critically examine the autonomy-based justification the majority in Chester gave for departing from those principles. And in the third section we consider a number of alternative ways in which protection could be given to the autonomy interests at stake in medical non-disclosure cases. Several more general points relating to the autonomy concept and the scope of liability doctrine in negligence law emerge from our critique. Our analysis also suggests that negligence law is ill-suited to the task of providing an appropriate legal solution to the problem of medical non-disclosure.
    ISBN: 0143-6503
  • Donal Nolan, 'Damage in the English Law of Negligence' (2013) 4 Journal of European Tort Law 259
    DOI: 10.1515/jetl-2013-0018
    Although foundational to the tort law of both common law and civil law countries, the concept of damage has been the object of surprisingly little analysis by academics in the common law world. The aim of this article is to redress the balance somewhat by looking more closely at the meaning of damage in the English law of negligence. The first part of the article consists of general observations on the damage concept. It is argued that it is impossible to devise a meaningful general definition of damage, that damage is not the same thing as loss, and that the damage concept is compatible with rights-based analysis of negligence law. The remainder of the article is devoted to consideration of the two most common forms of damage, personal injury and physical damage to property. It is argued that a central idea underpinning both these routine forms of damage is that of ‘impairment’, and that both forms of damage are subject to de minimis principles. As regards personal injury, particular attention is paid to the forms of psychiatric injury which ground a negligence claim. Finally, it is argued that for property to be damaged there must be a physical change in the property which impairs its utility or value, and that merely to incapacitate property is not to damage it. Although the primary focus is on English law (and the common law more generally), some comparative observations are made.
    ISBN: 1868-9620
  • Donal Nolan, 'Negligence and Human Rights Law: The Case for Separate Development' (2013) 76 Modern Law Review 286
    DOI: 10.1111/1468-2230.12013
    A number of judges and academics have argued in favour of the convergence of negligence law with human rights law. By contrast, the thesis of this article is that the two legal orders should develop independently, so that for the most part the law of negligence ought not to be affected by human rights considerations. It is argued that the case for convergence is based on two false assumptions, namely that human rights law and negligence law perform similar functions within our legal order and that the norms of human rights law are more fundamental than the norms encapsulated in negligence law. It is also argued that convergence would undermine the coherence of negligence law. Ultimately, the case for separate development rests on the desirability of recognising public law and private law as autonomous normative systems with their own distinctive rationales, concepts and core principles.
    ISBN: 0026-7961
  • Donal Nolan, 'The Liability of Financial Supervisory Authorities' (2013) 4 Journal of European Tort Law 190
    DOI: 10.1515/jetl-2013-0014
    In the wake of the global financial crisis, this article considers the tort liability of financial supervisory authorities to depositors and other investors following the failure of a bank or other financial institution. The analysis is comparative, with the primary focus being on the member states of the European Union. Consideration is given to the five liability categories or standards which are employed by EU member states in such cases. These are (1) a public law illegality standard; (2) a standard of ordinary fault/negligence; (3) a standard of gross fault/negligence; (4) a requirement of bad faith; and (5) complete immunity from liability. It is also shown that on the application of general tort principles claims by depositors against financial supervisors face a range of obstacles, including difficulties in establishing fault and causation, and conceptual difficulties based on the nature of the damage (the pure economic loss issue), liability for omissions and for the deliberate acts of third parties, liability for the exercise of judicial or ‘quasi-judicial’ functions, and the ‘protective purpose of the norm’ principle. Finally, consideration is given to alternative means of redress which may be available to depositors in such cases.
    ISBN: 1868-9612
  • A Mullis and Donal Nolan, 'Tort' in (ed), All England Law Reports Annual Review 2012 (Butterworths LexisNexis 2013)
    ISBN: 9781405778503
  • Donal Nolan and J Davies, 'Torts and Equitable Wrongs' in A Burrows (ed), English Private Law (3rd edn) (OUP 2013)
    DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199661770.003.0017
    ISBN: 978-0-19-966177-0
  • Donal Nolan, 'Varying the Standard of Care in Negligence' (2013) 72 Cambridge Law Journal 651
    DOI: 10.1017/S0008197313000731
    This article explores the variation of the standard of care in negligence to favour defendants, an issue of considerable practical significance which has not previously been the subject of systematic analysis. By shining a spotlight on this issue I hope to show that varying the standard of care in this way is a useful technique, which is and could be used in a number of types of case to achieve an appropriate balance between liability and non-liability. I also hope to show that if this technique is employed there are some ways of varying the standard of care which are preferable to others. The structure of the analysis is centred around three core questions. First, to what extent has English negligence law already varied the standard of care to favour defendants? Secondly, if the standard of care is to be varied, how should this be done? And thirdly, when and why might the use of a modified standard of care be desirable?
    ISBN: 0008-1973
  • Donal Nolan and A Robertson, 'Rights and Private Law' in D Nolan and A Robertson (eds), Rights and Private Law (Hart Publishing 2012)
    ISBN: 9781849461429
  • Donal Nolan and A Robertson (eds), Rights and Private Law (Hart Publishing 2012)
    ISBN: 9781849461429
  • Donal Nolan, 'The Fatal Accidents Act 1846' in TT Arvind and J Steele (eds), Tort Law and the Legislature: Common Law, Statute and the Dynamics of Legal Change (Hart Publishing 2012)
    ISBN: 9781849461405
  • A Mullis and Donal Nolan, 'Tort' in (ed), All England Law Reports Annual Review 2011 (Butterworths LexisNexis 2012)
  • Donal Nolan, 'Chapters on Strict Liability and The Principle of Rylands v Fletcher' in Carolyn Sappideen and Prue Vines (eds), Fleming's The Law of Torts (Thomson Reuters (Professional) Australia 2011)
    ISBN: 9780455218274
  • Donal Nolan, 'Nuisance' in D Hoffman (ed), The Impact of the UK Human Rights Act on Private Law (CUP 2011)
    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511920844.011
    ISBN: 9781107009325
  • Donal Nolan and A Mullis, 'Tort' in (ed), All England Law Reports Annual Review 2010 (LexisNexis Butterworths 2011)
    ISBN: 9781405755726
  • Donal Nolan, 'Alcock v Chief Constable of South Yorkshire Police (1991)' in Charles Mitchell and Paul Mitchell (eds), Landmark Cases in the Law of Tort (Hart Publishing 2010)
    ISBN: 9781849460033
  • Donal Nolan, 'Offer and Acceptance in the Electronic Age' in Andrew Burrows and Edwin Peel (eds), Contract Formation and Parties (OUP 2010)
    ISBN: 9780199583706
  • Donal Nolan, 'The Law of Electronic Commerce' [2010] Lloyd's Maritime and Commercial Law Quarterly 677 [Review]
    ISBN: 03062945
  • Donal Nolan and Alastair Mullis, 'Tort' in (ed), All England Law Reports Annual Review 2009 (LexisNexis Butterworths 2010)
  • Donal Nolan, 'Causation and the Goals of Tort Law' in Andrew Robertson and Tang Hang Wu (eds), The Goals of Private Law (Hart Publishing 2009)
    ISBN: 9781841139098
  • Donal Nolan and Alastair Mullis, 'Tort' in (ed), All England Law Reports Annual Review 2008 (LexisNexis Butterworths 2009)
  • Donal Nolan and Alastair Mullis, 'Tort' in (ed), All England Law Reports Annual Review 2007 (LexisNexis Butterworths 2008)
    ISBN: 978-0-4057-2828-7
  • Donal Nolan, 'Chapters on Government Liability, Product Liability, Nuisance and Rylands v Fletcher and Fire' in Ken Oliphant (ed), The Law of Tort (2nd edn) (LexisNexis Butterworths 2007)
    ISBN: 9781405712408
  • Donal Nolan, 'New Forms of Damage in Negligence' (2007) 70 Modern Law Review 59
    DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-2230.2006.00626.x
    Although damage is an essential component of negligence liability, important extensions of the categories of actionable damage occur with little or no analysis or even acknowledgement of the fact. In this article, consideration is given to a number of new forms of actionable damage which appear either to have received recognition by the courts in recent years, or to be close to receiving such recognition. The article is divided into three core sections, dealing with negligent imprisonment, wrongful conception and educational negligence. The principal conclusions are that redress for negligent imprisonment is best achieved through recognition of imprisonment as actionable damage in negligence; that an unwanted pregnancy is a form of personal injury, albeit an unusual one; that the conventional sum award in wrongful conception cases is best analysed as compensation for a diminution in the parents' autonomy; and that while untreated learning disorders are now treated by the courts as a form of personal injury, in the absence of such a disorder educational under-development ought not to be recognised as actionable damage in its own right.
    ISBN: 1468-2230
  • Donal Nolan and Alastair Mullis, 'Tort' in (ed), All England Law Reports Annual Review 2006 (LexisNexis Butterworths 2007)
    ISBN: 9781405725286
  • Donal Nolan and Alastair Mullis, 'Tort' in (ed), All England Law Reports Annual Review 2005 (LexisNexis Butterworths 2006)
    ISBN: 1405714743
  • Donal Nolan, 'Reforming Liability for Psychiatric Injury in Scotland: a Recipe for Uncertainty?' (2005) 68 Modern Law Review 983
    It is widely acknowledged that the common law rules governing liability for psychiatric injury in the United Kingdom are in an unsatisfactory state. The Scottish Law Commission has now published a report, Damages for Psychiatric Injury (Scot Law Com No 196, 2004), which recommends wholesale statutory reform of this area of the law. In this paper, the report is summarised, and its recommendations subjected to detailed critical analysis. It is concluded that, while the proposed statutory scheme is both coherent and imaginative, the Commission's consistent preference for flexible, fact-oriented rules means that implementation of the report's recommendations could give rise to an unacceptable degree of uncertainty.
    ISBN: 0026-7961
  • Donal Nolan and Alastair Mullis, 'Tort' in (ed), All England Law Reports Annual Review 2004 (Butterworths 2005)
    A summary of, and critical commentary on, the tort cases published in the All England Law Reports in 2004.
    ISBN: 1-405-70360-1
  • Donal Nolan, 'Psychiatric Injury at the Crossroads' (2004) Journal of Personal Injury Law 1
    An overview of the law governing psychiatric injury and an assessment of the options for reform. Commissioned by the journal, which is practitioner-oriented.
    ISBN: 1352 7533
  • Donal Nolan, 'Suing the State: Governmental Liability in Comparative Perspective' (2004) 67 Modern Law Review 843
    DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-2230.2004.00515.x
    A review article of Duncan Fairgrieve, State Liability in Tort: A Comparative Law Study. The article considers the current state of governmental liability in English law from three different perspectives (public law, private law, and legal politics), and focuses in particular on the lessons that can be learned from the French law of state liability.
    ISBN: 0026 7961
  • Donal Nolan and Alastair Mullis, 'Tort' in (ed), All England Law Reports Annual Review 2003 (Butterworths 2004)
    A summary of English case law developments in the law of tort in 2003.
    ISBN: 406965439
  • Donal Nolan and Alastair Mullis, 'Tort' in (ed), All England Law Reports Annual Review 2002 (Butterworths 2003)
    summary of the year's tort cases
    ISBN: 406965439
  • Donal Nolan, 'Chapters on Government Liability, Product Liability, Nuisance and Rylands v Fletcher and Fire' in Andrew Grubb (ed), The Law of Tort (Butterworths 2002)
    in-depth analysis of public authority tort liability for new practitioners' work
    ISBN: 406896720
  • Donal Nolan and Alastair Mullis, 'Tort' in (ed), All England Law Reports Annual Review 2001 (Butterworths 2002)
    summary of the year's tort cases
    ISBN: 406950423
  • Donal Nolan, 'Clerk and Lindsell on Torts (18th edn) ' (2001) 6 Construction and Engineering Law 48 [Review]
  • Donal Nolan, 'Risks and Wrongs: Remoteness of Damage in the House of Lords' (2001) 9 Tort Law Review 101 [Case Note]
  • Donal Nolan, 'The Modern Law of Estoppel ' (2001) 15 Trust Law International 59 [Review]
  • Donal Nolan and Alastair Mullis, 'Tort' in (ed), All England Law Reports Annual Review 2000 (Butterworths 2001)
    summary of the year's tort cases
    ISBN: 406940967
  • Donal Nolan, 'Economic Duress and the Availability of a Reasonable Alternative' (2000) Restitution Law Review 105 [Case Note]
  • Donal Nolan, 'Negligence Liability for Suicides in Custody' (2000) 8 Tort Law Review 91 [Case Note]
  • Donal Nolan and Alastair Mullis, 'Tort' in (ed), All England Law Reports Annual Review 1999 (Butterworths 2000)

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Research projects

Research Interests

Tort, especially negligence, nuisance and the relationship between tort and public law; Contract

Options taught

Contract, Tort, International Trade

Research projects