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Statutory Torts

A statutory tort is a type of civil wrong that is specifically defined and governed by statutes or laws enacted by legislative bodies, rather than being based on common law principles or judicial decisions. Statutory torts are created when a legislature passes a law that outlines particular wrongful actions or behaviours and establishes liability for individuals or entities that engage in those actions.

Legislative definition: Statutory torts are created by the legislature through the passage of a statute or law that explicitly defines the wrongful conduct and sets the legal standards for liability. These statutes provide a clear and specific framework for determining whether a tort has occurred.

Precise standards: Statutory tort statutes tend to be precise and clear in their definitions because they are codified in written laws. This clarity helps individuals and legal professionals understand their legal obligations and potential liabilities.

Explicit liability elements: Statutory tort statutes often specify the elements or requirements that must be met to establish liability. Plaintiffs must typically prove that the defendant's actions meet the criteria set forth in the statute to succeed in a statutory tort claim.

Remedies: Statutory tort statutes also frequently outline the remedies available to plaintiffs who prevail in their claims. These remedies may include monetary damages, injunctive relief (court orders to stop certain actions), or specific performance (requiring the defendant to fulfil a contractual obligation).

Uniformity: Statutory torts provide a degree of uniformity across jurisdictions within the same legal system because the statutes provide consistent standards for liability. However, variations may still exist based on the content of state or federal statutes.

Examples: Examples of statutory torts can vary depending on the jurisdiction and the specific laws in place. Some common examples include defamation, product liability, consumer protection, and invasion of privacy.

In summary, statutory torts are civil wrongs that are specifically defined and governed by statutes or laws passed by legislative bodies. These torts offer clear standards for liability and remedies to individuals who have been harmed due to the actions or behaviours outlined in the relevant statute. While common law torts are based on judicial decisions and legal principles, statutory torts are distinguished by their legislative origin and explicit definitions.

You can learn more about this topic with our Tort Law notes.

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