Unnecessary and Insufficient Factual Causes in the Law

Presented by Professor Jane Stapleton KC (Hon) FBA
together with a commentary by Patrick Keane AC KC

Time and date: Thursday 14th September, 2023, 5.30pm (Brisbane time)

Location: Banco Court, Supreme Court of Queensland (in person event only)

An event sponsored and co-hosted by the Australian Academy of Law, Bar Association of Queensland, Supreme Court Library Queensland and The University of Queensland, Australian Centre of Private Law.


In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the UK Government decided to take swingeing lock-down measures in March 2020 that resulted in billions of dollars of business interruption loss to hundreds of thousands of enterprises in that country. In a landmark 2021 decision concerning insurance cover for such losses, a unanimous UK Supreme Court rejected ‘but-for’ as the exclusive test of factual causation and confirmed that the law recognises that an unnecessary and insufficient factor may be a factual cause of an indivisible loss. The talk will describe the revolutionary procedure deployed in the case, how the Justices’ insightful introduction of non-insurance cases and commentary was crucial to the crafting of their decision and how profound an impact it may have across the entire landscape of the law.

About the Speaker

Professor Stapleton is a distinguished Emerita Professor of Law at the Australian National University. She is one of the world’s leading experts on the law of torts and her work has been cited extensively by appellate courts and law reform bodies across the common law world. Her research in recent years has focused in particular on the concept of causation as it operates in common law legal systems and has proven influential in shaping the civil liability legislation in all Australian jurisdictions. She is a Corresponding Fellow of the British Academy; a recent recipient of the highly acclaimed Prosser Award; an Honorary Bencher of Gray’s Inn; and a member of the Council of the American Law Institute. She has held previous academic appointments at Harvard, Cambridge, Oxford, Texas and Columbia Law Schools.

Read Professor Stapleton's biography and publications


Attendance is free but registration required via the Bar Association of Queensland.

Register now


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About Australian Centre for Private Law Events

The mission of the ​Australian Centre for Private Law is to foster the development and understanding of the private law through advanced theoretical, doctrinal, empirical and historical research, and the dissemination of that research through education and professional outreach. By supporting the work of its Fellows, the ACPL seeks to promote research in all areas of private law and to establish itself as a research centre of national and international importance. The core initiatives of ACPL are:

Research: To advance a deeper understanding of the structure, principles and policies of the private law through advanced theoretical, comparative, and empirical analysis.

Education: To promote, facilitate and disseminate the results of that research for the benefit of Australia’s social and economic fabric.

Professional Outreach: To engage the judiciary and members of the legal profession in discussion about the values, goals and methods of private law and the respective roles of the judiciary, the legal profession and the academy in the interpretation and reform of private law.

The ACPL embraces all branches of private law, including the law of contract, torts, trusts, equity, property, unjust enrichment, including theoretical and jurisprudential dimensions and contextual applications thereof.


Banco Court
Supreme Court of Queensland