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Monash University Handbook 2011 Undergraduate - Unit

6 points, SCA Band 3, 0.125 EFTSL

Refer to the specific census and withdrawal dates for the semester(s) in which this unit is offered.

FacultyFaculty of Law
OfferedSunway Trimester 2 2011 (Day)


This unit will examine the law of non-contractual wrongs from a comparative and international perspective. It will analyse current issues and emerging trends in selected areas of torts law across common law and civil law jurisdictions.
Topics will include:

  • Dignitary wrongs: Apart from the ancient tort of defamation and the equitable doctrine of breach of confidence, the law on personality interests is a late bloomer in common law jurisdictions. The courts continue to struggle with the protection of privacy and wrongs causing emotional harm. The unit will consider the developing jurisprudence on privacy in UK, Australia, Hong Kong and New Zealand and contrast it with the protection under the European Convention on Human Rights as well as recent Australian reform proposals for legislative intervention.
  • Medicine and torts: Actions for wrongful life and wrongful birth touch on fundamental ethical and public policy issues. The position adopted by a legal system tends to reveal much about the moral underpinnings of its torts law and, sometimes, its judicial officers. This unit will examine the recoverability of damages where medical negligence results in child birth, and evaluate the conflicting arguments through comparative analysis.
  • Torts Law and Human Rights: In jurisdictions without a bill of rights, the law of torts has an important function in protecting fundamental human rights against state interference. Following the enactment of human rights instruments in Canada, New Zealand, the UK and, more recently, in some Australian jurisdictions, the relationship of torts law and human rights law needs to be re-examined. This unit will consider the impact of human rights instruments on the development of torts law principles.
  • European Torts Law: The EU continues on the path of harmonisation and unification of torts law among member states. This unit will examine the main actors in the process, the techniques applied and the rationale underlying this process. It will also examine the potential and obstacles of further harmonisation of torts law within Europe.
  • Conflict of torts laws: In an increasingly international community, cross-border wrongs have become commonplace. Where torts law is not harmonised, domestic courts need to resolve conflicts between diverging national laws. The EU has adopted a regulation on the law applicable to non-contractual obligations. This unit will examine this instrument and contrast it with the private international law of torts in non-EU member states.


On completion of this unit, a student should be able to:

  • demonstrate detailed and advanced understanding of the selected topics;
  • enhance their understanding of the jurisprudence and practice of torts law;
  • engage in oral discussion about the function and evolution of modern torts law across jurisdictional boundaries; and
  • be able to critically assess the interaction of torts law and related areas.


Class participation: 10%; research essay (1,500 words) and short presentation: 30%; and take-home examination: 60%.

Chief examiner(s)

Dr Normann Witzleb

Contact hours

Students will be required to attend 36 hours of seminars, and undertake approximately an additional 108 hours of private study, including reading, class preparation, assignment preparation and revision time over the duration of the course.


LAW2201 Torts A and LAW2202 Torts B or an equivalent Introductory course in tort law at another university.