Reforming English Tort Law: Lessons from Australia
The rise of legislation has profoundly affected all areas of the law in the major common law jurisdictions. Tort law was arguably the last major stronghold of judge-made law.1 However, even this common law citadel has crumbled in recen.t years, ,unable to withstand the relentless onslaught of statutory law. Unsurprisingly, the extent of statutory alterations to tort law vary very considerably from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. New Zealand famously underwent by far the most far-reaching legislative changes. As. a result of recommendations made by a Royal Commission chaired by Sir Owen Woodhouse,2 t4e New Zealand Parliament provided for a comprehensive accident compensation scheme.3 This scheme, which came into force in 1974, provides for benefits to be paid to accident victims on a no-fault basis. It leaves tort law with a relatively minor role to play. Tort law throughout Australia has also been changed very extensively by statute. The most significant modifications were made in 2002 and 20034 in response to hikes: in the price ofliability insurance premiums.