Date of this Version


Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Details

Published version

Field, I. (2017). A Good-Faith Challenge to the Taxonomy of Tort Law Defences. University of New South Wales Law Journal, 40(2).

Access the journal

Copyright © UNSW Law Journal, 2017




Extract: Perhaps unsurprisingly, there is no universally accepted taxonomy of tort law defences. Indeed, at least one influential scholar in the field actively discouraged any attempt to compile a ‘systematic index of “exceptions” or “defences”’. Nevertheless, in his ambitious and pioneering book, Tort Law Defences, James Goudkamp endeavours to do precisely this. Goudkamp’s work will be lauded by some as an important progression in the great ‘taxonomical project’ – that is to say, the movement given impetus ‘by the late Professor Peter Birks and (the mainly academic) supporters and advocates of his and similar views to impose a coherent and logical taxonomy upon private (common) law’. Whether this is actually Goudkamp’s purpose is unclear; it may be that he intends merely to provide an account of tort law defences that is descriptively true. But whateverthe case – and whether his taxonomy is accepted or rejected – Goudkamp is owed a considerable debt for illuminating the need to develop our understanding of this important area of the law, and for laying the foundations upon which we might do so.

Included in

Torts Commons



This document has been peer reviewed.


To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.