The study of law is a singularly interesting pursuit, owing largely to the immense scope of its subject matter. The number and breadth of legal doctrines are matched only by their intricacy and depth. A complex lattice of jurisprudence extends in all directions, each segment subdividing like a fractal and inseparable from its neighbours.
This interdependence makes many legal concepts seem obstruse and impenetrable to new or one-time explorers — it layers otherwise simple concepts with jargon and semantic dependencies. It also emphasises the primary importance of a sound conceptual structure in unravelling a new area of law. Even in primarily statutory regimes, to understand the ‘big picture’ — the general principles and vaues that inform the particular field — is essential for correct interpretation.
The pedagogy adopted here is essentially top-down. Its rationale is simple: the most efficient way to master a new area of law is to first develop an appropriate conceptual structure. Only then can the specific content of individual statutes, case law and commentary be properly situated and retained.
I aim, with these notes, to provide such an overview. Depth of coverage will vary depending upon my own interest, the syllabus which I have myself been taught, and other practical exigencies. The primary focus will be legal structure. Secondarily, common factual issues will be noted with a view to the identification of salient matters in practice. A further, tertiary consideration is that of unresolved ambiguities (of which there are many).
Feedback of all kinds would be greatly appreciated (but especially the kind informing me that precedent is outdated). Although the notes are updated from time to time as I tutor various subjects, they may quickly become stale. If you would like to contribute to these notes, please do so by means of the comment box at the bottom of every page.
A tort is a civil wrong sounding in an action for damages. These notes consider several modern derivatives of trespass and the action on the case, including negligence, assault, battery and associated elements, defences and remedies.
An introduction to western jurisprudence, concepts of the rule of law, responsible government and individual rights, with consideration of their influence upon traditional, positivist, realist, cultural, feminist, postmodern and other schools of critique.
A broad introduction to the seedy underworld of criminal law by reference to doctrines of homicide, sexual crimes and other offences against the person, theft and other property crimes, inchoate offences and complicity.