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Tort lawyers won’t be required in 30 years, suggests top judge

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Could Donoghue v Stevenson be ditched from law school syllabuses?

A top judge has said he doubts whether lawyers will be involved with tort law and personal injury cases in three decades’ time.

Sir Geoffrey Vos, the Chancellor of the High Court, said in a recent speech:

“In terms of tort and personal injury, I somewhat doubt whether lawyers will be much involved in that by 2050. Even if there is not a no-fault compensation scheme for road accidents and medical negligence by that time, the expertise required will not be legal so much as medical and scientific.”

Tort law is a compulsory module on the qualifying law degree and is famous for seminal cases including Donoghue v Stevenson and The Wagon Mound.

Recently, a spell of tort cases have reached the Supreme Court.

In February, Lady Hale and colleagues delivered judgment in Robinson v Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police. They ruled the Hill v Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police principle, which says police are generally immune from negligence claims in respect of their detection and investigation of crime, does not extend to positive acts done by the police. The court is still considering a case on whether employers who are defending vicarious liability actions owe a duty of care to the employees alleged to have committed the actions their employer is vicariously liable for.

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So could tort law really be wiped from law school syllabuses? A spokesperson for the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) had this to say: “If there are large shifts in law over the coming decades, we will need to take that into account in making sure any assessment is as relevant and effective as possible.”

Adrian Denson, chief legal officer at personal injury outfit Fletchers, added: “It is a fundamental right enshrined in common law that a person has the right to pursue legal remedy when they suffer a civil wrong that causes injury, loss or damage. Our legal system has developed over a 1000 years in order to provide a framework to resolve disputes that inevitably arise from civil claims and lawyers, not medics or scientists, will always be needed to navigate the court system and the myriad common law principles and statutory rights and obligations that underpin it.”

Elsewhere in Vos’ lengthy speech, the top judge said he thinks legal training needs to be modernised.

“The glacial pace” at which legal training has changed in the past 40 years is “remarkable”, he thinks. The former barrister is concerned that aspiring lawyers study “the same or almost the same subjects” as he did in the early 1970s.

His vision is for training courses to depend on what sort of lawyer it is you want to be.

For example, “social lawyers will need training in dealing with people, in social science, in civil rights, in what causes crime and family break-up rather than hard-edged law”. Whereas “business lawyers” will “need to understand the ever-more-complex regulatory regime that affects commercial life online”. To do so, “they will need to know some computer coding”, he thinks.

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29 Comments

FoodForTort

Why what happened in Donoghue v Stevenson?

Anonymous

This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

Anonymous

A top judge?

Anonymous

Never heard of him.

Anonymous

Then you probably are not a lawyer doing any litigation. Unlike most of the “top” people referred to on this site he is indeed a leading and very brilliant judge. This speech is clearly meant to be “thought provoking”.

Anonymous

Oh hullo Geoffrey. Still rankling at missing out on the Supreme Court bench?

Just Anonymous

So long as human beings remain sufficiently mental, the need for lawyers will continue.

Anonymous

This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

Anonymous

This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

Anonymous

This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

Anonymous

Good, there are far too many ambulance chasers in the legal sector already

Anonymous

Haha lol ambulance chaser did you come up with that yourself?

Anonymous

PI firm trainee spotted

Anonymous

There are no trainees in PI firms, only career wage slaves and paralegals, or those fucking Cilexes who spend all day preaching that they are as good as Solicitors.

Oppidan

Top judges probably wont be needed either. AI will be able to do most of it

Anonymous

Most tort lawyers are not required now.

Anonymous

You realise that there are more torts than just negligence (and at that, negligence causing personal injury) right?

Anonymous

Meanwhile procuring breaches of contracts, false imprisonment, and passing off claims will rise.

Katie

No, what?

Unlike you, I have an LLB:
– Contract law = Carlill v Carbolic Smoke Ball
– Tort = Donoghue v Stevenson
– Criminal law = R v Brown

I’m telling you – that’s all there is.

LC management

Would you like a 100% raise from £0 / hour to £0 / hour?

Anonymous

Land law = ??

Mr Orange

Agree with what he says about training in social sciences, although Criminal Barristers need a very good grasp of hard edged law as the precedents can be a real mess. Children lawyers could do with training in Child Psychology, as they spend half their time reading these kind of expert reports and the legal side is not terribly complex.

Nostradamus

Automation is going to put a large proportion of lawyers out of a job by 2050, regardless of the field.

k

TL;DR The retards who picked Sociology or Criminology over Delict for Final Honours are gonna be the ones lording over you soon enough

Anonymous

Any lawyer who has had any contact with PI knows it is a fvcking joke.

Formulaic claims. Quantum could basically be worked out by a twelve year old with reference to Kemp. Bullsh1t serial whiplash claimants.

Never mind taking the lawyers out of it (which would be of huge benefit to society, and drastically reduce costs). How about abolishing the entire RTA system, actually banning this bullsh1t whiplash bollocks?

Anonymous

Government’s changing the law on whiplash payouts isn’t it? No doubt the claims sharks will just move on to some other scam.

PI really is the toilet bowl of legal practice.

Anonymous

All PI quantum needs to be drastically reduced. The guidelines have no resemblance to reality, and are out of step with other civilised countries.

Anonymous

Toilet bowl is right. As a junior barrister I was at a set that did lots of PI. Kept telling them I wanted to do other things, but chambers was clearly heading in ththe toilet bowl PI direction. Couldn’t get out of there quick enough – to the extent I almost accepted an offer to leave the self-employed Bar, but thankfully got into chambers elsewhere.

It’s so grim. The clients are grim and the solicitors are grim. Populated by grasping individuals and some shoddy practice on the solicitor and insurer side.

Anonymous

Why does KK write like LC readers are totally gormless gits

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