Torts – written assignment
Sources are in BLUE
Vol III – is the attached TORTS_BIG
Just after midnight on June 14th, 2017, a fire started in an apartment on the fourth floor of the Grenfell Tower, part of a social housing complex in London, England. That night, 72 people died as the fire spread and destroyed the entire building. Apartment blocks like Grenfell were supposed to be built such that a fire can’t spread in them, yet none of the flat doors met current fire resistance standards. Emergency workers told residents to “stay put”, only switching to an order to try to evacuate when they realized that the fire was spreading through the walls. The exposed gas pipes, external cladding of the building, and combustible materials used in the windows and walls, installed in 2016, all appear to have contributed to the extensive and rapid spread of the fatal fire. Grenfell Tower was situated in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, one of the wealthiest neighbourhoods in the country, known for the highest gap between rich and poor in England. More specifically, the tower was in the Notting Dale ward, ranked among the poorest areas in the UK. A public inquiry into the disaster was launched. Here is an overview. Just before the inquiry opened, Andrew O’Hagan wrote an extensive and controversial story in the London Review of Books based on dozens of interviews (see link above).
This assignment offers you the opportunity to revisit and review challenging issues regarding the delineation of liability. More concretely, you are invited to use the Grenfell Tower story to identify, reflect upon, and analyse a specified part of the winter term’s detailed course outline, specifically one or more of the following:
1. Delineating the scope of responsibility according to the nature of the injury;
2. Delineating the scope of responsibility according to the nature of the parties;
3. Delineating the scope of responsibility according to the relationship between parties;
4. Delineating the scope of responsibility in the context of coming to another’s aid; and/or
5. Delineating the scope of responsibility through (legal) causation (proximate cause).
Your text should reflect the integrated, transsystemic Civil/Common law approach, thus showing your ability to think across traditions and systems.
Note: You have flexibility in referring to other topics/issues in the law of civil wrongs in order to fill out your discussion. You should assume that your audience familiar with what we have covered in the course prior to the classes whose material you address, and therefore you do not have to offer a substantial review of related issues. In particular, you are welcome to refer to discussions from earlier in the winter term on protected interests (including human rights) and the limits of recovery for, and recognition of, injury
Seneca College v Bhadauria [Vol 3, page 170]
CurateurPublique v Hôpital St-Ferdinand [attached as a separate doc]
Finally, do not try to cover everything we learned in the week on which you are focusing; instead, make a judgment about which issues, topics, or legal principles are the most relevant in connection with the Grenfell Tower disaster.
C. DELINEATION ACCORDING TO THE NATURE OF THE DEFENDANT (STATE [IN]ACTION AND THE FAILURE TO RESCUE)
CIVIL LIABILITY AND THE STATE
Can the relationship between an individual and the State be the source of civil liability? Can the state be civilly liable to individuals and therefore be ordered by courts to pay compensation for harm caused? Is
there any distinction to be drawn between civil liability for private parties and for state parties? How do the courts address this question? Is civil liability the appropriate legal route to challenge government action or inaction? If the state is declared to be liable and required to pay large sums of money, what implications does this have for public policy and resource allocation?
• _Cooper v Hobart [Vol III, page 68]
• _Cilinger v Quebec [Vol III, page 412]
• _Williams v Ontario [Vol III, page 416]
• _R v Imperial Tobacco Canada [Vol III, page 424]
• _W. Van Boom & A. Pinna, “Liability for Failure to Regulate Health and Safety Risks” [Vol III, page 435]
ACTS AND OMISSIONS: GOOD SAMARITAN / DUTY TO RESCUE
To what extent does the law expect us to take positive steps to protect others from harm? If we fail to come to the aid of someone, can it be that we have breached an obligation recognized by law? The law is generally reticent to impose a duty in situations of “pure omission”, preferring to leave such behaviour to the moral persuasion of the Good Samaritan parable. In particular, the common law has been characterized as embodying a “mind your own business” philosophy in the name of individual freedom. While the civil law is generally understood to be more generous in theory, it is interesting to note that a (limited) Good Samaritan provision is explicitly included in the Quebec Charter leaving open the question as to whether article 1457 implicitly subsumes such a responsibility. In what ways does the law encourage “rescue” and in what ways does it suggest that its preoccupation is not with being “good” but rather with “liability”?
• _Canadian Charter of Human Rights, Article 2
2. Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms:
• (a) freedom of conscience and religion;
• (b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;
• (c) freedom of peaceful assembly; and
• (d) freedom of association.
• _Articles 1457, 1471 CCQ
1457. Every person has a duty to abide by the rules of conduct incumbent on him, according to the circumstances, usage or law, so as not to cause injury to another.
Where he is endowed with reason and fails in this duty, he is liable for any injury he causes to another by such fault and is bound to make reparation for the injury, whether it be bodily, moral or material in nature.
He is also bound, in certain cases, to make reparation for injury caused to another by the act, omission or fault of another person or by the act of things in his custody.
1471. Where a person comes to the assistance of another or, for an unselfish motive, gratuitously disposes of property for the benefit of another, he is exempt from all liability for injury that may result, unless the injury is due to his intentional or gross fault.
• _Van Gerven, Tort Law: Scope of Protection (excerpt) [Vol III, page 80]
• _An Act to Promote Good Citizenship, articles 2 & 12 [Vol III, page 83]
• _The Good Samaritan Protection Act [Vol III, page 84]
• _N Kasirer, “Agapè” [Vol III, page 85]
• _Childs v Desormeaux[Vol III, page 98]
• _Crocker v Sundance (skip sections 4, 5, 6 of the judgment) [Vol III, page 112]
Your assignments will be evaluated according to the following criteria:
• _Effective integration of sources
• _Persuasiveness of arguments
• _Clarity of writing
• _Demonstrated critical understanding of the law of extra-contractual civil liability
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