70311: Torts

Torts and Crim, together, are exactly what you think “the law” is all about.  You put criminals in jail, and you sue the hell out of people.  There are all of those American cases you read about: the robber who fell through the sky-light, broke his legs and sued for millions; the fat guy who burned himself on drive-in Maccas coffee and sued;  and the dream of giant class-action suits against apple … The CLA basically killed all that, but we’ll all be OK!

Section 5L

This is actually my favorite subject I have had at Uni.  My teacher was absolutely amazing, Anita Stuhmcke: she literally wrote the book on torts.  She also kept our class working well, a brilliant teacher.  When it came to exams, she gave us individual appointments and marked our practice papers, giving us advice along the way.

I can’t give you advice on the assignment, it was opt-in, we had Law Revue, and I was pretty confident with my class mark.  I’ll try get a guest post written about it.

For the class mark, it is essential to actually do the readings.  A friend of mine asked Anita about her class mark, and she responded with a class-by-class critique of participation.  She also said that whilst a lot of us did well in particular classes, none of use had prepared for each one.  Consistency! Also, be sure to listen to your class-mates and respond to their arguments in class discussions with law and readings and not just with emotion or even logic.

This is the subject that will reward you most for class prep and doing your readings.  In fact, you’ll struggle and fall far behind if you miss a few classes worth of readings.    Also, if you only have time to do one bit of the homework, sketch up the answers to the problem questions.  Not only will this get you the most class-mark-kudos, it will also help you the most for the exams.  Here’s a few examples of class-participation prep I did, NB: they aren’t checked, they were merely used as discussion guides for in-class, in fact, I think I had a few glaring errors in these [70311Week8, 70311PQStatutoryAuthority].

For the exam, the first thing you’ll need is a readable, printable CLA; here’s one I prepared earlier [70311CLA].  Then you’ll need a set of everything-summarising notes; enjoy [70311NegligenceNotes, 70311IntentionalTorts, 70311IntentionalTrespassesDiagram], theses may be the best notes I have made.  They are also a good guide to classes, but aren’t in enough detail for you to get away with only using them for your class participation (you’ll find, classes are on one topic only, and go in to history, etc. thus your exam notes can be in a lot less detail then the notes for each class and still be effective.

Then, you need to do practice paper after practice paper.  Show them to your tutor.  Get feedback.  I have a few, if you want me to send them to you (they are hand-written), shout out in the comments and I’ll organise something.  Some of the most important pieces of feedback I got:

  • Organise your exam result by plaintiff, deal with the major defendant first, and establish: (1) that multiple tortfeasors may be defendants and its ramifications (2) the basic elements of the torts.  Once this is done, do not repeat yourself, if an element is the same between causes of action, just say “see above”.
  • Use headings and subheadings: headings being the cause of action (e.g. “John Smith v Jane F Citizen – Negligence) and subheadings which describe and foretell the result (e.g. “Duty of Care is Established” or “The Cause of Action is Too Remote”).  Underline these.  This will draw the marker’s attention to what you know, and help them tick off their marking sheet.
  • Do intentional torts first, they get you marks and are brief.  Do not write too much on them, the focus of this subject is negligence.  Write that intentional torts do have higher damages and why (they are outside the scope of the CLA, damages, thus, aren’t limited by the CLA).
  • Write about the most substantial/impressive cause of action first, this gets the marker into a habit of ticking.
  • Always refer to subsections of the CLA, and to whatever case-law is necessary.
  • Try to integrate the whole of the IRAC method into the A (pplication).  Imply the issue and the rule in the application of the facts.  Draw conclusions as an introduction (e.g. “there exists a duty of care for mental harm”) and then go on to explain why, rather than beginning with the explanation.  This will signpost your intentions.
  • Be as brief as possible.  You will learn this with practice papers, time is the biggest issue here, and the more streamlined your answer (not repeating yourself, clear planning) the less of an issue this will be.

The only textbook I really used was Australian Principles of Tort Law [UTS Library; Amazon], I didn’t use the other textbook, and I found that the Essentials [UTS Library] was a bit too brief, though useful in the exam.

If you have any questions on this subject, it was totally my favorite, so I’m happy to help!

Update: a few people wrote in the comments requesting some of the practice papers I did.  I only found four of them, and I’m not sure of the order they’re in, but they are all answers to the papers put up online.  Excuse the massive file sizes, they are all scanned in.  Here you go: Green national parkRexPeta v JockMike v Everest etc.

Update 2: the above practice questions were responses to the practice papers available at the UTS library resources page for this subject.


One response to 70311: Torts


    Thank you very much for your kindness in putting great stuff here. I appreciate the effort you have put in and that helps us a lot.

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