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 11: Professional liability

Ewoud Hondius

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


Tort law traditionally recognises a separate treatment for professional liability. The professions concerned are the classical liberal professions, such as those of accountants, attorneys, bankers, providers of medical services and a number of other professionals. This chapter is part of a publication on tort law. However, in recent years there has been a move from tort to contract, in general and with regard to professional liability in particular. An example of the latter is the legislative regulation of medical liability in some European nations. As recently as February 2013, the German Patient Law Act (Patientenrechtegesetz) codified medical liability, which so far had been based on negligence in tort, in the part of the Civil Code (Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch) devoted to contract law. The Germans followed the example of the earlier Dutch and the Czech codification of medical liability. Another example is the entry into force by 31 January 2013 of the new standard contractual terms for solicitors instructing a barrister in England. More in general, it should be added that the distinction between tort and contract, although by no means obsolete, especially as to liability for damages, is slowly becoming less important in other jurisdictions as well. Now, there is a difference as concerns the various professions. With regard to medical liability, it is difficult – although not wholly inconceivable – to imagine that negligence is committed vis-à-vis someone who has no bond at all with the provider of medical services.

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