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Tort law culture in the United Kingdom: image and reality in personal injury compensation

Lewis, Richard Kurt and Morris, Annette 2012. Tort law culture in the United Kingdom: image and reality in personal injury compensation. Journal of European Tort Law 3 (2) , pp. 230-264. 10.1515/jetl-2012-0230

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In this article we highlight two contrasting sets of images of tort that are dominant in UK culture. The first set reflects various aspects of the traditional portrayal of justice, which depict tort as an independent ‘natural’ system of rules of universal application forming the foundation of a just society. The second group of images is more recent and relates to the development of a damaging compensation culture. Focusing on personal injury litigation, we show, in different ways and to different degrees, how these portrayals differ from the reality of tort in practice. In explaining how tort actually operates we reveal significant features of the culture of tort. In practice it is heavily influenced by institutional arrangements: the importance of both welfare provision and liability insurance is highlighted, and the effects of a ‘no-win no-fee’ claims market are examined. The article reveals that the operation of tort is very much affected by commercial interests and the economic demands of the institutions which surround it. Overall we conclude that the cultural images of tort examined fail to reflect how the system of compensation for personal injury actually operates in practice.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Law
Subjects: K Law > KD England and Wales
Uncontrolled Keywords: tort law, culture, damages, personal injury, compensation culture, road traffic injury, liability insurance
Publisher: Walter De Gruyter
ISSN: 1868-9620
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2017 03:47

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