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Diverse communities of the ‘Global South’ contend with environmental degradation. As they do so they confront the world’s largest multinational corporations (MNCs). This chapter focuses on the 2019 English case, Lungowe v Vedanta, in which Zambian residents sued the then London-headquartered mining group, Vedanta Resources. The chapter’s task is to identify the role of tort law in the conflict between MNCs and those exposed to environmental degradation. It will do so by contrasting two types of legal work. Katharina Pistor’s The Code of Capital presents corporate lawyers ‘coding’ assets – such as the copper mined in Zambia – to deliberately challenge tort law’s capacity to deter or to compensate. Lungowe, by contrast, shows tort law as a site of distributional conflict animated by the work of strategic litigation and interpretation by public interest lawyers and sympathetic judges.

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In addition to highlighting the non-neutrality of tort law, and its personal, real-life context, this collection brings issues of social class, ‘race’, gender, marginalisation, vulnerability and harm into conversation with core tort law topics to encourage a more critical examination of the law and its impact on different groups of people. The deliberate welcoming of both diverse topics and interpretations, alongside diverse voices, is intended to help students gain and develop further critical understanding of the goals of tort, whether they are achieved (and if so, who for, and at what cost), or whether tort law serves to perpetuate existing inequalities and division. By including a wider range of voices and views within a core tort law text, we hope to uncover the power imbalances and privileges that underpin tort law decisions and their impact on lived experiences, and provide a useful resource for those seeking to engage with more critical and diverse perspectives on tort.

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This captivating book explores uncharted territory in tort law, shedding light on underexplored viewpoints in the field.

The collection brings issues of social class, race, gender, marginalisation, vulnerability and harm into conversation with core tort law topics to encourage a more critical examination of the law and its impact on different groups of people.

Written by experts in the main areas of tort law from negligence to defamation and personal torts, chapters will:

• deepen students’ understanding of the central concepts and practices of tort law;

• uncover the power imbalances and privileges that underpin tort law decisions and their impact on lived experiences;

• amplify under-represented voices by signposting to the work and ideas of scholars that are less visible in the field.

Integrating marginalized perspectives into the curriculum and discourse, this indispensable textbook paves the way for a more inclusive and comprehensive understanding of tort law.

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This chapter examines how English defamation law treats false imputations of homosexuality before and after the 2013 libel reforms. It explores the evolution of dominant societal norms, key events and pieces of legislation that shaped the trajectory of the LGBT movement in England and Wales, and evaluates the extent to which, if at all, reputational harm for being misidentified as gay or lesbian should be legally recognised.

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In addition to highlighting the non-neutrality of tort law, and its personal, real-life context, this collection brings issues of social class, ‘race’, gender, marginalisation, vulnerability and harm into conversation with core tort law topics to encourage a more critical examination of the law and its impact on different groups of people. The deliberate welcoming of both diverse topics and interpretations, alongside diverse voices, is intended to help students gain and develop further critical understanding of the goals of tort, whether they are achieved (and if so, who for, and at what cost), or whether tort law serves to perpetuate existing inequalities and division. By including a wider range of voices and views within a core tort law text, we hope to uncover the power imbalances and privileges that underpin tort law decisions and their impact on lived experiences, and provide a useful resource for those seeking to engage with more critical and diverse perspectives on tort.

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This chapter examines the spectrum of actions which encompass the practice of image-based sexual abuse (IBSA) and the lack of a framework in tort which applies to this. IBSA falls uncomfortably into a lacuna in the provisions of tort law, especially where the person creating or sharing the images cannot be identified. Overall, despite clear and manifest harm, image-based sexual abuse fails to fall within a single tortious cause of action, or any cause of action, leaving claimants struggling to find a suitable avenue for redress. This magnifies the difficulty that (often-female) victims of IBSA face, increases barriers to obtaining a remedy, not least through cost, and exacerbates harms along intersectional identity lines, leaving marginalised communities at a greater risk of harm. The chapter explores the inadequacies of tort law as it stands for remedying a prevalent, but often hidden, and gendered, form of harm.

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This chapter explains why a collection like this is important, locating it within a tradition of critical legal education and scholarship. It explains that it is important to remember that tort law is topical and about real people and their experiences, and appeals to the ‘humanity’ of tort. It goes on to give a synopsis of the chapters to follow.

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This chapter explores the limits and radical potential of public authorities’ duties of care to hold the state to account for harms suffered by those who are most marginalised in society. It follows a wealth of feminist and critical scholarship critiquing the abstracted and individualised White, pecunious male subject at the heart of tort law, and the increasingly large body of scholarship demanding a vulnerable human subject be placed at the heart of law, politics and ethics. While the rules on the public sector’s liabilities have been developing, there has been little consideration given to whether there has been a shift in the conception of the subject to whom duties of care are owed and any invocations of vulnerability. This oversight is more significant when research identifying an increasingly prominent role of vulnerability in the context of human rights is considered, given the close – if contested – relationship between tort law and human rights in relation to public bodies’ liability. In this chapter we analyse the nature of the subject in the context of duties of care and explore the relationship between tort and human rights liability.

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This chapter analyses the politics of the recovery of pure economic loss in negligence. Recent critiques of the law have recognised that it sometimes comes to the aid of rich investors who have made bad business decisions. By way of contrast, the decisions of Smith v Bush and White v Jones are often portrayed as cases where the law has come to the aid of sympathetic ‘vulnerable’ claimants. Challenging this idea, this chapter assesses whether these decisions are in fact consistent with the neoliberal political ideology that was at its height in the 1980s and 1990s.

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This chapter considers the gendered implications of product liability claims for injuries caused by dangerous medical devices. In recent years, women have been injured in a series of scandals involving medical devices, including Poly Implant Prothèse (PIP) breast implants, the Essure permanent contraceptive device and transvaginal mesh. Further, devices that are implanted into both male and female bodies, such as joint replacements and cardiac devices, fail more frequently in women than they do in men. If women are more likely to be injured by implantable devices, they are also more likely to seek compensation for those injuries, and hence to be disproportionately affected by any defects in the product liability regime. If an effective product liability regime gives manufacturers an incentive to ensure that their products are safe, an ineffective product liability regime may do the opposite, making it more likely that dangerous devices will continue to be implanted into women’s bodies. This is exacerbated by the fact that many women who are injured by medical devices find that their symptoms are dismissed or downplayed as ‘normal’ and ‘attributable to women’s problems’.

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