Research group celebrates decade of tort scholarship

January 18, 2021

Members of Western’s Tort Law Research Group (TLRG) capped off a highly successful and productive first decade of research collaboration, publishing two new books in 2020.  

The books, Introduction to the Canadian Law of Torts, 4th ed (LexisNexis) and Fridman’s The Law of Torts in Canada, 4th ed (Carswell), carry on the legacy of the late Professor Gerald Fridman, and signal the increasing strength of tort law scholarship at Western Law.

“We’re aiming high with these books,” says co-general editor Stephen Pitel. “Our objective is for each of them to be the leading book of its type in Canada, and for that to happen the quality has to be second to none.”

“For the TLRG, collaboration and mutual academic support have been critical in multiplying success,” says Dean Erika Chamberlain. “The TLRG has created research opportunities that we would not have had working on our own.”

Established in 2010 by Professors Jason Neyers, Stephen Pitel, and Erika Chamberlain, the objective of the TLRG was to build on Western’s existing depth in the field, provide a new forum for collaboration, and attract leading academics to the faculty.

In the ensuing decade, the TLRG has fostered several fruitful research projects and publications.

In 2018, group members were awarded two SSHRC Insight Grants -Professors Jason Neyers and Andrew Botterell for “Deceit and Per Quod: A Rights-Based Perspective,” and Professors Erika Chamberlain and Rande Kostal for “Canada’s Private Law Revolution.” Professor Zoë Sinel was one of three scholars awarded a SSHRC Insight Grant in 2019 to study “Tort Law in Its Social Context.”

Members of the TLRG have also hosted national and international conferences and workshops, notably the Sixth Biennial Conference on the Law of Obligations (2012), the North American Workshop on Private Law Theory (2019), and workshops on Gerald Fridman on the Law of Obligations: Past, Present and Future (2018), and Professor Nicholas McBride’s The Humanity of Private Law (2019).

In addition to the two most recent books, members have published Tort Law: Challenging Orthodoxy (2013), Cases and Materials on the Law of Torts (10th ed, 2019), and Gerald Fridman and the Law of Obligations: Past, Present and Future (2019).

They’ve also had impressive individual research grants: Sinel was awarded a SSHRC Insight Grant for “Just Feelings: A Tort Law Theory of Emotion” (2020-23), and Neyers received a SSHRC Standard Research Grant, for “The Economic Torts as Corrective Justice” (2009-13).

The members have also published numerous book chapters, peer-reviewed articles and monographs Including Chamberlain’s Misfeasance in a Public Office (2016).

Professors Rande Kostal (2008), Jason Neyers (2015), and Zoë Sinel (2020) have been named Faculty Scholars, and Emeritus Professor Robert Solomon was named Distinguished University Professor in 2013.

The work of the TLRG has been cited by the Supreme Court of Canada, the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom, the Supreme Court New Zealand, the High Court of Australia, and numerous appellate and first instance courts in Canada and abroad.  

Members of the TLRG group have also served on the advisory boards of the Brazilian Journal of Tort Law, the Bracton Law Journal, the Journal of Commonwealth Law, and the Canadian Journal of Law and Jurisprudence. Chamberlain is the General Editor of the Canadian Cases on the Law of Torts.

The TLRG’s strengths have carried over to the classroom. Group members have taught courses in Advanced Torts, Economic Torts, Emerging Issues in Tort Law, Remedies, Advanced Private Law Theory, and Advanced Private Law Speakers Series, both at Western and at the Law Faculties of Auckland, Melbourne, Sherbrooke, and Sydney universities.

Several members have won Faculty and University-wide teaching honours and, in the case of Professor Pitel, Ontario’s top award for university teaching (2013).

The group’s enhanced profile has helped it to attract internationally renowned scholars for its two annual public lectures, generously sponsored by Cohen Highley LLP (2011-2012), Legate Personal Injury Lawyers (2012-2018), and Shillington McCall LLP (2018-2020).

Looking ahead, the TLRG will host the Tenth Conference on the Law of Obligations in 2022, and the research and publications will continue, with three new editions of its members’ books expected in the next five years.

“We’ve had a great ten years,” says Neyers, “but the best is still to come because of the new generation of private lawyers who have recently joined the faculty who will further enrich the TLRG.”