Sarah Green Delivers TLRG Public Lecture
On March 4, Professor Sarah Green delivered the second Tort Law Research Group (TLRG) Public Lecture of the 2018-19 academic year. Professor Green, Professor of Private Law at the University of Bristol Law School, spoke to an audience of students and faculty on the topic, “Torts and Capabilities.”
Drawing on the economic development scholarship of Amartya Sen and Martha Nussbaum, Professor Green argued that modern tort law doctrine is moving away from exclusively protecting static entitlements, such as property or physical integrity, and toward safeguarding the dynamic capabilities of individuals—what people are able to do and to be. She identified three main categories that not only illustrate this trend, but also defy explanation on more traditional approaches. The first draws on the facts of a 2000 House of Lords decision, Phelps v Hillingdon, in which the local educational authority was found to be vicariously liable for an educational psychologist’s negligent failure to diagnose dyslexia in the plaintiff when she was a school-aged child. The second concerns liability for pure economic loss wherein, due to the defendant’s negligence, the plaintiff has been denied an opportunity to make a financial gain. And, the final category consists of wrongful pregnancy, birth, and conception cases. All three categories, Professor Green suggested exemplify tort law’s role as a “facilitative institution,” one which removes “unfreedoms” and focuses on a robust understanding of individual capability and agency.
The TLRG’s Public Lectures for the 2018-2019 academic year are generously sponsored by Shillingtons LLP.