Lecture One-- The Background

The first lectures in this series were given last year by the world expert on Law and Economics.1 Second subjects are expected to offer a contrast to the opening theme, yet be sufficiently consonant with it as to permit developmental interaction. My title--' Economic Torts'--may therefore give the wrong impression, for its treatment will have nothing to do with Law-and- Economics, or at any rate will eschew that fashionable and exciting approach. In this it is like that excellent little book by Dyson Heydon with the title 'Economic Torts',2 in which, alas, he observes that 'there cannot be any account of the economic torts which is comprehensible without effort'. I fear you may soon discover how right he is.3

Since our theme is liability for causing harm of a purely economic nature, I had better say at the outset what I mean by 'purely economic', or even just 'economic'. Of course the injured workman suffers economic harm in consequence of his bodily injury--his income is diminished if he loses wages and his expenditure increases if he pays for medical attention rather than be killed free of charge by the National Health Service. We are not concerned with that case. Again when machinery in a business is damaged, the firm suffers an economic loss, namely the cost of replacement or repair and the loss of profits in the meantime. But we are not concerned with that case either. We

____________________
1
Richard A. Posner, Law and Legal Theory in England and America ( 1996).
2
J. D. Freeman, Economic Torts V ( 2nd edn. 1978).
3
Recent articles on English law include G. H. Fridman, "Interference with Trade or Business", 1 Tort Law Review19, 99 ( 1993); J. D. Heydon, "The Future of the Economic Torts", 12 University of Western Australia Law Review1 ( 1975); H. Carty , "Unlawful Interference with Trade", 3 Legal Studies193 ( 1983); H. Carty, "Intentional Violation of Economic Interests: The Limits of Common Law Liability", 104 Law Quarterly Review250 ( 1988); P. Elias and K. Ewing, "Economic Torts and Labour Law: Old Principles and New Liabilities", [ 1982] Cambridge Law Journal321.

-1-

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