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Additional Material. EXERCISE 18. Write a summary of the text THE LAW OF TORTS.

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EXERCISE 18. Write a summary of the text THE LAW OF TORTS.


The Law of Torts


The law of torts is essentially the law of injuries and remedies for those injuries. Torts can thus include assault, battery, false imprisonment, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligence, invasion of privacy, defamation, fraud or misrepresentation, wrongful conversion, trespass, and other wrongs such as product liability. Some of these wrongs can be both civil and criminal in nature. A battery, for example, may be prosecuted by the state as a violation of the criminal statutes. The offender may be sentenced to prison and be ordered to pay a fine to the state. In some cases, he may also be ordered to pay restitution to the victim. However, the battery may also be a civil tort as well. The victim (the plaintiff) may sue in civil court for the tort of battery (and any other torts that may be alleged, such as intentional infliction of emotional distress). If the plaintiff is successful, the defendant will be ordered to pay compensatory damages (to “compensate” for the injury) and punitive damages (to “punish” the defendant for having caused the act). In the US, it is commonly believed that courts will enter punitive damages in an amount that is roughly three times the size of the compensatory damages (which are sometimes called the “special damages” by plaintiff’s lawyers).

In his book, An Introduction to the Legal System of the United States, Professor Allan Farnsworth described the field of torts and distinguished it from criminal law and contract law. He wrote, “The field of torts embraces a group of civil wrongs, other than breach of contract, that interfere with person, property, reputation, or commercial or social advantage. While such an act, such an assault may sometimes be both a crime punishable by the state in a criminal prosecution and also a tort actionable by the victim in a suit for damages, the criminal prosecution and the damage action are quite separate and unrelated proceedings. The essential purpose of the law of torts is compensatory and, though punitive damages may occasionally be awarded, its function is distinct from that of criminal law. Conversely, criminal law is essentially punitive and an injured party is not awarded compensation in the criminal proceeding.”

The emergence of Torts as an independent branch of law came strikingly late in American legal history. Although William Blackstone and his eighteenth-century contemporaries, in their efforts to classify the law, identified a residual category of noncriminal wrongs not arising out of contracts, Torts was not considered a discrete branch of law until the late nineteenth century. The first American treatise on Torts appeared in 1859; Tort was first taught as a separate law school subject in 1870; the first Torts casebook was published in 1874.

(from Introduction to Legal English by M.E. Wojcik)



HOW TO BECOME A LAWYER IN THE USA   In admission decisions made by law firms neither race nor sex is relevant. The qualities of mind, capacity to reason logically, ability to work under pressure, leadership, and the like are unrelated to race or sex. Justice Lewis F. Powell, Jr.

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