Murphy, J. (2022) TORT'S HIERARCHY of PROTECTED INTERESTS. Cambridge Law Journal, 81 (2). pp. 356-383. ISSN 1469-2139

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It is widely accepted that tort law operates according to a hierarchy of protected interests. Some commentators suggest that this hierarchy can be put to dispositive uses in cases characterised by a clash of interests held respectively by the claimant and defendant (the inferior interest giving way). Others argue that thinking in terms of a hierarchy of interests sheds light on three unusual aspects of tort law: viz. the existence of torts that are actionable per se, the existence of strict liability torts, and the existence of actions in which injunctive relief is routinely awarded even though compensatory damages are tort law's default remedy. This article tests both claims. It concludes that an intuitively appealing hierarchy of interests can be identified, and that it might well possess dispositive significance all other things being equal. But it also observes that all other things are seldom equal, and that departures from the hierarchy occur for various reasons that can be clearly identified and which should be borne in mind when thinking about its dispositive utility. It also urges caution in making connections between the status of certain interests and the fact that they are protected by torts that are actionable per se, strict liability torts and torts in connection with which injunctions are awarded almost as a matter of course.

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Journal Article
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Cambridge Law Journal
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30 Mar 2023 15:15
Last Modified:
19 Sep 2023 02:46