Tort Law and How It’s Tied to Culture
by M. Stuart Madden, Esq.
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"“…tort-type law, we can see that principles of economic efficiency have always been a part and parcel of civil remediations of wrongful harm."

In his highly informative work, the author posits that as soon as small social groups began to coalesce, man devised methodologies to maintain order by enforcing customs, norms, and peace through rules preventing such wrongs as theft, assault, battery, and negligence, to name a few. Written codes like that of Hammurabi and King Ur Nammu were the first known written laws, but it was the Greek penchant for myths such as those written down by Hesiod that led later Greek philosophers like Socrates and Plato to devise detailed reasons for laws as the highest "good." The Roman law of twelve tables was revised by Solon and later expanded into the Codes, Institutes, and Digests (Pandects) of Justinian I that became practical customary law.

Roman codes included the concepts of the "delict," or fault, and juries. It is regarded as a major development from archaic formalism to rationalism and helped eradicate "blood feud" solutions, an age-old practice, substituting compensatory monetary damages instead. The author then discusses Gothic codes, myth and folklore's role, and the relationship between common law and statutory law. A comparison of American and Colombian law reveals the lasting influence of Roman approaches with the concept of fault, guilt, or "culpa" being problematic. Strict liability or "without fault" regarding negligence cases is now much rarer than the modern accident concept of "fault," defined as a failure to act with due care to prevent loss or harm.

In his wide-ranging and well-written treatise on tort law's importance in society's development, the author firmly rejects a traditional and mythic understanding of modern law but advocates instead for a model of economic efficiency correlating with deterrence as the most scientific method for injury law today. Well-researched and engaging, Madden's work is a fascinating overview for laypeople and professionals alike.

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