Comparative Tort Law

Comparative Tort Law

Global Perspectives

Research Handbooks in Comparative Law series

Edited by Mauro Bussani and Anthony J. Sebok

Comparative Tort Law: Global Perspectives provides a framework for analyzing and understanding the current state of tort law in most of the world's legal systems. The book examines tort law theories, rules and cultures. It looks at general issues at play throughout the globe, such as causation, economic and non-economic damages, product and professional liability, as well as the relationship between tort law and crime, insurance, and public welfare schemes. The book also provides insightful case studies by analyzing specific features of selected tort systems in Europe, USA, Latin America, East Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa.

Chapter 2: The many cultures of tort liability

Mauro Bussani and Marta Infantino

Subjects: law - academic, comparative law, law of obligations


There can be little doubt that tort law is at the same time a product and a constituent of the very cultural framework in which it is embedded. Yet, as of now tort law’s cultural dimensions have gone largely unexplored. Legal anthropologists’ work on wrongs and compensation has mostly focused on traditional societies in which tort law, as practiced in the West, either plays a minor role or is indistinguishable from what we would dub criminal law. Socio-legal scholars, on their part, have mostly investigated selected Western jurisdictions, seldom venturing beyond the reasons which shape people’s propensity to sue and trust in legal institutions. Other lines of research – such as legal history, law and economics, critical legal studies, and comparative law itself – have helped highlight particular aspects of the historical and cultural embeddedness of tort law adjudication. Most of the time, however, their contributions have remained confined to geographical and/or substantive areas of law, or have addressed, through methodologies specifically tailored to reflect the approaches just mentioned, the current state-of-the-art of knowledge in our field. Combining insights from legal anthropology, socio-legal literature, legal history, and comparative law, we will try to understand the role that, in Western and non-Western legal traditions, tort law plays in responding to and managing social conflicts.

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