Liability: The Legal Revolution and Its Consequences

By Peter W. Huber | Go to book overview

PREFACE

MUCH of the business of law is mystification and misdirection. Long words are better than short ones; more words, better than fewer. If the concept is really important, render it in Latin.

These familiar lawyerly techniques have been used to remarkable effect in recent years to transform the law of accidents. By now the public senses that something is badly awry. But few understand how we got to where we are, or who brought us.

This book is an attempt at demystification, so I cannot expect it to be warmly received by all my brothers and sisters in law. Most of them, for one reason or another, find something to commend in a vast system of law, created by lawyers for lawyers, that touches almost every aspect of our daily lives. One way to repel outside inspection is to present the issues as enormously subtle and complicated. But they are not.

This is the story of the revolution in liability law. It occurred in the last thirty years. It has benefited almost no one but the lawyers who run it. It has reached a point where even the most progressive and urgently needed reforms will be hard to accomplish, because the framework of law needed to support them has eroded so badly.

The majority of Americans already recognize the need for reform. But reforms will go wrong, if they go anywhere at all, unless they are built on an understanding of how we arrived at our present pass. Perhaps a simple account of a great revolution that has done much harm can help in setting things right.

-ix-

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