Time and date: Wednesday, 31 July, 2024, 1-2pm
Location: Law School Board Room (W353), Level 3, Forgan Smith Building, The University of Queensland, St Lucia
And via Zoom: https://uqz.zoom.us/j/88126949666


What should “damage” mean in tort law? Leveraging from the philosophical project of conceptual engineering, at a very high level, there can be debate about which practical goal we want to achieve within the (local) domain in which the concept of damage features, whether that goal is best achieved by the concept in its current form, or how we might go about re-engineering the concept so that it can better function in service of that goal. In this vein, the following two, different goals have been recently articulated in some pockets of the jurisprudential literature: (1) to ensure maximal justifiability of the concept of damage (and the operation of tort law) to the people who are subject to it (a goal recently articulated by Stephen Smith); and (2) to respect, honour and promote certain public morals, values and the common good (Nigel Simmonds). In this paper, I take both of these goals to be very plausible. My main interest lies in exploring the question whether the goals can provide any useful direction to the way in which we flesh out the legal concept of ‘damage’, and whether or not (and if so, how) the concept as it is currently conceived may need to change (or even perhaps be abandoned and replaced with a different concept) so as to allow it to function better in the pursuit of such goals.

About the Speaker

Tony Zhou joined Queen Mary as a Lecturer in Private Law in January 2023, researching primarily in private law theory (specifically on topics at the intersection of private law and moral philosophy). He also teaches undergraduate tort law and land law. He completed his LLB at the University of Queensland, and his LLM and PhD at the University of Cambridge. He will be visiting Fellow of the TC Beirne School of Law at the University of Queensland from June to September this year. In a past life, Tony worked for many years as a corporate tax lawyer at both Ashurst and Price Waterhouse Cooper.

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.


Law School Board Room (W353), Level 3, Forgan Smith Building, The University of Queensland, St Lucia
and via Zoom: https://uqz.zoom.us/j/88126949666

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