Western Law

Berryman Lectures on Tort Law and Multiculturalism

On Monday, November 17, 2014, Professor Jeff Berryman delivered this year’s first Tort Law Research Group public lecture. Speaking to an audience of students and faculty members, Professor Berryman spoke on the topic of “Tort Law, Personal Injuries, and the New Multiculturalism.”  

In his lecture, Professor Berryman explored three issues relating to multiculturalism and tort law damage awards. First, he examined how Canadian society’s commitment to multiculturalism is carried through in government policy and social practices. Second, he looked at how the concept of multiculturalism has been employed in the law by analysing two decisions of the Supreme Court of Canada: Bruker v Marcovitz, 2007 SCC 54 and Syndicat Northcrest v Amselem, [2004] 2 SCR 551. Third, relying on these insights, he considered how judges in tort law actions should deal with personal injuries that are said to negatively affect cultural and religious practices and values. His advice was that judges should recognize these effects symbolically by making monetary awards that are extremely modest. His argument was that this would have the twin benefit of discouraging these types of claims from being brought as well as weakening the resolve of a defendant from vigorously contesting the claims. This would in turn dampen the flames of animosity between the parties and be more conducive to advancing social harmony and multiculturalism.

Professor Berryman is a Professor of Law at University of Windsor, Canada and holds a fractional chair in law at the University of Auckland, NZ.  He is the author of The Law of Equitable Remedies, 2nd ed (Irwin Publishing, 2013) and is the co-ordinating editor and contributing author of Berryman et al, Remedies: Cases and Materials now in its 6th ed, published by Emond Montgomery. His published articles have appeared in journals in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the United States, and England. In addition, he has advised the New Zealand Ministry of Justice, Ontario Law Reform Commission, and the Federal Court of Canada, and is a member of the Law Society of Upper Canada and a barrister and solicitor of the High Court of New Zealand.

The Tort Law Research Group’s public lecture series is generously sponsored by Legate and Associates LLP. Founding lawyer Barbara Legate, a graduate of Western Law, leads a firm that uses a client-centred team approach focused on getting to know each client and assuring that he or she feels empowered. She was recently named 2014 Lawyer of the Year in Personal Injury Litigation. Ms. Legate publically thanked Professor Berryman for his lecture.