- The tort law industry
- European Review of Private Law
- Volume | Issue number
- 17 | 5
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Law (FdR)
- Centre for the Study of European Contract Law (CSECL)
Tort law is fast becoming ‘big business’. Hardly a week goes by without some lawyer or other launching a mass claim to redress a perceived injustice. Investors, too, are starting to recognize the commercial potential of tort law. Coinciding with the increasing commercialization of tort law, is growing support amongst European policy makers and legal academics for the view that tort law can be used as an ‘instrument’ for the enforcement of other areas of the law.
In this contribution, the author demonstrates that instrumentalist concepts like ‘punitive damages’ and ‘popular actions’ are by no means foreign to the Western European legal tradition. In the Low Countries, the reception of Roman law ensured that punitive damages and popular actions were part of private law until the days of the Republic. However, with the rise of the Natural law school in the seventeenth century, the Dutch moved away from the concept of private citizens exacting punishment. The author would regard a return to an instrumentalist view of tort law as a real ‘step backward’.
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