LAW 231 - Law of Torts

Credit points: 30 points
Offered: Full-year
Contact hours: Lectures - 3 hours per week, 8 tutorials - 1 hour per fortnight
Course Director: Marcus Roberts
Prerequisites: LAW 121G & LAW 131
Corequisite: LAW 298 or 299

Course description

The law of torts, a private law subject, is part of the law of civil obligations and covers personal wrongs (not including breaches of contract) that can be compensated by way of an action for damages. The law is largely to be found in decisions of the court rather than in statute. The most important exception to this in New Zealand is the Accident Compensation Act 2001. This Act bars all claims for damages arising directly or indirectly out of personal injury or death where the personal injury is caused by an accident, treatment injury or an occupational disease. This means that in New Zealand tort actions are generally concerned with loss, such as damage to property or financial damage that is not personal injury.

Content outline

There are numerous torts, not all of which can be covered. The emphasis is on those torts that best illustrate the general principles and which arise most frequently in practice.

Approximately one half of the course is devoted to the law of negligence. This tort is the principal means by which the law provides compensation for loss caused by another’s carelessness. A study is made of the essential features of the tort: the duty of care, breach, issues of causation, foreseeability, remoteness of damage - and then its application in specific instances is considered.

Other torts that are covered include the land-based torts and the intentional torts of assault, battery and false imprisonment and the related torts of intentional infliction of emotional distress, privacy and defamation.


Final Exam 60%, compulsory test 20%, compulsory essay 10%, preparation and attendance at tutorials and moot 10%.

Both the test and the final exam are open book. This means that you may, if you wish, bring into the test and exam and refer to any materials such as casebooks, textbooks and study notes.

Procedures are in place for exceptional cases where students need to attend an alternative tutorial (for example, for medical reasons). The procedure will be outlined in the 2018 handbook.

Recommended text

A useful text is Todd (General Editor) The Law of Torts in New Zealand (7th ed, Brookers Ltd, Wellington, 2016).