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 14: A comparative law sketch of pure economic loss

Vernon Valentine Palmer

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


The recoverability of pure economic loss stands at the cutting edge of many crucial questions that have drawn theoretical and judicial attention over the last decades. To what extent should tort rules be compatible with the market orientation of the legal system? Or, as some may phrase it, how far can tort liability expand without imposing excessive burdens upon individual activity? As a matter of policy should the recovery of pure economic loss be the domain principally of the law of contract? This chapter pursues the modest goal of sketching possible answers to these questions. Thus, it will first (sections 2–4) outline the notion and the factual situations where this loss is likely to occur. Then, it will discuss the broad spectrum of differing approaches to this kind of damage in Western tort law (section 5) as well as the basic arguments for an exclusionary rule (section 6). Finally, the chapter will sketch conclusions about the past and future developments of doctrines and rules about pure economic loss (section 7). There has never been a universally accepted definition of ‘pure economic loss’. What is universally clear instead is the negative cast and the patrimonial character of that loss. In countries where the term is well recognized its meaning is essentially explained in a negative way. It is loss without antecedent harm to plaintiff’s person or property.

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