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UQ Law Lecture presented by Professor Helen Scott

Thu 10 Nov 2016 12:30pm2:30pm


Level 22, Waterfront Place
1 Eagle Street, Brisbane

MinterEllison is hosting a UQ law lecture, presented by Professor Helen Scott.

Please register using the button above, and contact Law Events if further information is required.
Email: events@law.uq.edu.au.
Phone: 3365 2523.

About the lecture

The South African law of delict has its roots in the uncodified civil law of pre-codification Europe. Thus it preserves to a remarkable degree the terminology and conceptual structure of Roman law: contemporary South African lawyers speak quite unselfconsciously of iniuria (by which they mean wrongs to personality) and Aquilian liability (by which they mean liability for loss wrongfully caused). On the other hand, the South African law of delict has also been profoundly influenced by English law, during its formative period in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. As a result, the modern South African law of delict is relatively accessible to common lawyers: not only does South Africa recognise a version of the doctrine of precedent; the law of delict in particular incorporates English doctrines such as vicarious liability, the discrete treatment of liability for negligent omissions and negligent misstatements, and a distinct law of defamation. It is for this reason that South African private law is described as a mixed legal system. However, a third major influence can be identified in the constitutionalisation of the South African law of delict over the course of the last two decades, through the mechanism of section 39(2) of the Bill of Rights. This has led to the rapid expansion of delictual liability in South Africa, particularly as against the state, as the courts seek to give indirect effect to a range of fundamental rights. It has also tended to destabilise the law. I will illustrate these three highly characteristic features of the South African law of delict – and the tensions they generate – with reference to three leading decisions of the Constitutional Court: Carmichele v Minister of Safety and Security in 2001, K v Minister of Safety and Security in 2005, and Le Roux v Dey in 2011. I will also speculate briefly as to the law’s future development as South Africa moves out of the immediate post-Apartheid period into a new, more uncertain political dispensation.

Helen Scott is a professor in the Department of Private Law at the University of Cape Town, having joined the UCT Law Faculty permanently in May 2009. Between 2005 and 2009 she was a University Lecturer in Law at the University of Oxford and Fellow and Tutor in Law at St Catherine's College Oxford, and before that a Fixed Term Fellow in Law at Trinity College Oxford.

She studied classics and law at the University of Cape Town (BA with distinction in Latin and distinction overall, 1995; Honours in Latin, first class, 1996; LLB magna cum laude, 1998) and subsequently completed BCL (with distinction, 2000), MPhil (with distinction, 2001) and DPhil (2005) degrees at Oxford.

Her research interests fall within the comparative law of obligations (particularly tort/delict and unjust/unjustified enrichment) and civilian legal history (particularly Roman law). She has recently finished updating the chapters on harms to personality, strict liability and unjustified enrichment in Wille's Principles of South African Law (10th edition to be published by Juta in 2016), and is currently working on a textbook provisionally entitled The South African Law of Delict with Anton Fagan and Alistair Price, also for Juta. Her major research interest at the moment is the history of the foreseeability concept which dominates both Aquilian liability in South African law and the tort of negligence in the common law. 


The Law Events Team
3365 2523