DRT 6567 : Responsabilité civile (Torts)
Fall 2013


CREDITS:                     3

SCHEDULE:                Mondays, B-3325, September 9 – December 2, 16.00-19.00 (Group A)

                                    Wednesdays, B-3225, September 4 – December 4, 13.00-16.00 (Group B)

CONTACT:                  Room A-7450


                                    Email : paul.daly@umontreal.ca

COURSE WEBSITE:    https://studium.umontreal.ca/


OFFICE HOURS:           Mondays,14.00-15.45


Please note that I do not answer substantive questions by email.It will be more productive if we run through any problems you have in person.

REQUIRED TEXTS: Philip H. Osborne, The Law of Torts, Irwin Law, 4th ed., 2011.

                                Allen M. Linden, Lewis N. Klar and Bruce Feldthusen, Canadian Tort Law: Cases, Notes and Materials,

                                LexisNexis, 13th ed., 2009

 A Note on the Readings


In the syllabus I have given a comprehensive list of all the readings relevant to the topics we will be discussing.

You should read the relevant parts from the Osborne text before each class. I have identified these parts in the syllabus. The order of the syllabus does not follow the order of the Osborne text. I appreciate that this may be frustrating to those used to the order of the Code Civile! Common law is much more chaotic and no two textbooks treat the subject in quite the same order. I chose to assign the Osborne text because it is very clear and should give you a good basic understanding of the common law of torts.

In the Linden, Klar and Feldthusen text, you will find excerpts from many of the cases listed in the syllabus. Some extracts are long, some are short. Sometimes the cases identified in the syllabus are briefly summarized in a “Notes” section. I chose to assign the Linden, Klar and Feldthusen text because it gathers together the main cases and will save you the trouble of looking them up in the library or online. You should read the extracts from the cases listed in the syllabus, preferably before each class, certainly after each class and especially if you are unclear about what a particular case means. You may wish to read the whole of a “Notes” section if you are interested in a particular topic, but you are not obliged to do so. Concentrate on the cases listed in the syllabus. If you are unsure about the location of a case, look it up in the index. Some of the cases and statutory provisions listed are not in the books. You need not worry about reading these cases in advance of class, but you may need to read them after class if you are unclear about something. If they are unavailable and you have difficulty finding them in the library or online, please let me know and I will make electronic versions available on Studium.


Standards & Evaluation

Your final grade depends upon performance in 2 components of the course : an assignment to be completed after reading week (30%) and a final examination held in December (70%).


1. Introduction

               A. Theoretical Framework: Week 1

Reading: Osborne, 1-23; LKF (optional), 1-36

1. The “law of tort” or the law of “torts”
2. The Nature of Tort
i. Historical development
ii. Corrective justice
iii. Distributive justice
3. Types of liability
i. Intentional torts
ii. Negligence
iii. Strict liability
4. Constitutional Aspects
5. Relationship between Tort Law and Contract Law

6. Functions of Tort Law
i. Compensation
ii. Deterrence
iii. Education
iiii. Market Deterrence
iiiii. Psychological Function
iiiiii. Regulation


2. Intentional Torts
B. Interference with the Person: Week 2

Reading: Osborne, 249-262; 266-274; 323-324; LKF (extracts from key cases), 37-82; 101-102

1. Intention (A requirement common to all the intentional torts)

i. Onus of proof

ii.     Involuntary actions

iii.     Mental Illness

iv.     Constructive intention

v.     Transferred Intent

vi.     Foreseeability

2. Battery

i.     Harmful or offensive contact

ii.     Beyond generally acceptable standards of conduct

iii.     Direct or indirect force

iv.     Physical contact with skin unnecessary

v.     No knowledge requirement

vi.     Sexual contact

3. Assault

i.     Apprehension of battery

ii.     Imminency

iii.     Fighting Words

4. False Imprisonment

i.     Complete Restraint

ii.     By means of act or omission

iii.     Knowledge of plaintiff

iv.     No reasonable means of escape

v.     Absence of lawful authority

5. Intentional Inflection of Emotional Distress

i.     A gap in tort protection?

ii.     Extreme and outrageous conduct calculated to cause harm

iii.     Harm

6. Discrimination 

7. Privacy

i.     Intrusion on Seclusion

ii.     Appropriation

iii.     Statutory Intervention


 C. Defences to Intentional Torts: Week 3

Reading: Osborne, 279-294; LKF (extracts from key cases), 103-156

1. Consent

i.     Nature of consent

ii.     Onus on defendant

iii.     Withdrawal of consent

iv.     Invalidity of Consent

v.     Scope of consent

2. Sports

3. Hospitals

4. Defence of the Person

i.     Self-defence

  1. Complete defence
    • Cockroft v. Smith (1705), 88 E.R. 872*
  2. Must be necessary and reasonable
    • McDonald v. Hees (1974), 46 D.L.R. (3d) 720
  3. Provocation is not a defence
    • Evans v. Bradburn (1915), 25 D.L.R. 611
    • Hurley v. Moore (1993), 18 C.C.L.T. (2d) 78

ii.     Defence of third parties

5. Defence of Property

i.     Right of possession or presence

ii.     Request to leave

iii.     Reasonable force

6. Necessity

i.     Imminent peril

ii.     Onus on the defendant

iii.     Public necessity

iv.     Private necessity

7. Legal Authority

i.     Police officers

ii.     Others

8. Mistake

 D. Economic Torts: Week 4

Reading: Osborne, 314-338; LKF (extracts from key cases), 621-652; 710-711

1. Deceit

i.     False Representation

ii.     Knowingly false

iii.     Intention to deceive

iv.     Inducement to act

v.     Damage

2. Injurious Falsehood

i.     Untrue statements causing economic loss

ii.     Malice

iii.     Special damage

3. Passing off (NOTE: many of the English cases listed here, which I will describe in class, are not in the textbooks) NOT COVERED

i.     Distinctive reputation

ii.     Actual or probable confusion

iii.     Misrepresentation to prospective customers

iv.     Causing or threatening actual damage to business or goodwill

4. Conspiracy

i.     Concerted action

ii.     Conspiracy to injure

iii.     Unlawful means conspiracy

iv.     Abolition?

5. Intimidation

i.     Coercion to refrain from doing an act

ii.     Threat to use unlawful means

iii.     Compliance with the demand

6. Interference with contract

i.     Breach of valid contract

ii.     Knowledge

iii.     Intention

iv.     Wrongful Inducement

v.     Justification

7. Interference with Economic Interests by Unlawful Means

i.     As a distinct tort?

ii.     Scope

 E. Defamation: Week 5

Reading: Osborne, 404-427; LKF (extracts from key cases), 653-710

1. The distinction between libel and slander

2. Defamatory statement(s)

i.     Test

ii.     Applications

3. Identification

i.     Person

ii.     Group libel

4. Publication

i.     Reasonable and probable consequences

ii.     Power to act

iii.     Accidental publication

iv.     Accidentally defamatory material

v.     Innocent dissemination

5. Defences

i.     Justification

ii.     Absolute privilege

iii.     Qualified privilege

iv.     Responsible communication on a matter of public interest

v.     Fair comment

  1. Factual basis
    • Barltrop v. C.B.C. (1978), 86 D.L.R. (3d) 61
  2. Legitimate opinion honestly held
    • McQuire v. Western Morning News, [1903], 2 K.B. 100
    • Cherneskey v. Armadale Publishers, [1979] 1 S.C.R. 1067
    • W.I.C. Radio v. Simpson, [2008] 2 S.C.R. 420

vi.     Apologies are not a defence

 3. Negligence

F. Negligence: Duty of Care Week 6

Reading: Osborne, 67-84; 161-174; LKF (extracts from key cases), 189-200; 285-359

1. Existence of a duty

i.     The neighbour principle

ii.     Anns

iii.     Caparo

iv.     Cooper

2. Foreseeability and Proximity

i.     An introduction to the problem

ii.     Non-feasance versus misfeasance

iii.     Duty to rescue

iv.     Contractual relationships

v.     Economic benefit

vi.     Creation of risk

vii.     Special relationships

viii.     Undertakings

ix.     Occupiers

3. Policy grounds

4. Breach of Statutory Duty

i.     The traditional position

ii.     Modern position: no distinct tort

iii.     Failure by plaintiff to comply with statute

iv.     Statutory torts


 G. Standard of Care: Week 7

 Reading: Osborne, 27-52; LKF (extracts from key cases), 171-189; 200-244; 552-560

1. Unreasonable Risk

i.     Competing formulations

ii.     Probability

iii.     Cost

iv.     Pre-existing condition

v.     Emergencies

2. The Reasonable Person

i.     Definitions

ii.     Compliance with or deviation from custom

iii.     Particular types of reasonable person

  1. Young people and old people
    • McHale v. Watson (1966), 39 A.L.J.R. 459
    • Heisler v. Moke, [1972] O.R. 446
    • Dellwo v. Pearson (1961), 107 N.W. 859
    • McKee (Guardian ad litem of) v. McCoy (2001), 9 C.C.L.T. (3d) 294
  2. Mental and physical disability
    • Buckley v. Smith Transport, [1946] O.R. 798
    • Fiala v. Cechmanek (2001), 201 D.L.R. (4th) 680*
    • Roberts v. Ramsbottom, [1980] 1 All E.R. 7
    • Boomer v. Penn, [1966] 1 O.R. 119
    • Stokes v. Carlson (1951), 240 S.W. 2d 132
  3. Specialists
    1. Doctors
      • Wilson v. Swanson, [1956] S.C.R. 804
      • Challand v. Bell (1959), 18 D.L.R. (2d) 150*
      • ter Neuzen v. Korn, [1995] 3 S.C.R. 674
      • Vancouver General Hospital v. Fraser, [1952] 2 S.C.R. 36
      • McCormick v. Marcotte, [1972] S.C.R. 18
    2. Duty to disclose
      • Reibl v. Hughes, [1980] 2 S.C.R. 880*
      • White v. Turner (1981), 31 O.R. (2d) 773
      • Ciarlariello v. Schachter, [1993] 2 S.C.R. 119
      • Arndt v. Smith, [1997] 2 S.C.R. 539

3. Compliance with statute

4. Strict Liability for Defective Products

ii.     Duty to warn

iii.     Inherently dangerous products


H. Causation and Proof of Negligence: Week 8

 Reading: Osborne, 53-65; LKF (extracts from key cases), 161-169; 245-284

1. “But for” Causation

i.     The basic test

ii.     No recovery for loss of a chance

iii.     How to deal with non-tortious causes

2. Proof

i.     Res ipsa loquitur

ii.     Inferring negligence

iii.     Inferring causation: robust and pragmatic test

3. Modified Standards in Limited Circumstances: Material contribution to risk

i.     Impossibility

ii.     Unfairness

iii.     Market share liability

4. Intervening events

i.     Foreseeability test

ii.     Second accident

iii.     Medical error

iv.     Criminal and negligent acts

v.     Intermediaries

  1. Inspection
    • Ives v. Clare Brothers, [1971] 1 O.R. 417
    • Dutton v. Bognor Regis U.D.C., [1972] 1 Q.B. 373
    • Good-Wear Treaders v. D. & B. Holdings (1979), 8 C.C.L.T. 87
  2. Learned intermediary
    • Hollis v. Dow Corning, [1995] 4 S.C.R. 634*


 I. Damage: Week 9

Reading: Osborne, 65-66; 82-107; 174-206; LKF (extracts from key cases), 363-426; 463-507

1. Damage must be demonstrated

2. Remoteness

i.     The directness rule

ii.     Retreat from the directness rule

iii.     Return to the directness rule?

  1. Type of damage
    • Hughes v. Lord Advocate, [1963] A.C. 837
    • Falkenham v. Zwicker (1978), 93 D.L.R. (3d) 289
    • School Division of Assiniboine South, No. 3 v. Hoffer and Greater Winnipeg Gas (1970), 16 D.L.R. (3d) 703
    • Jolley v. Sutton L.B.C., [2003] 3 All E.R. 409
    • Tremain v. Pike, [1969] 3 All E.R. 1303
    • Doughty v. Turner Manufacturing, [1964] 1 Q.B. 518
    • Oke v. Weide Transport (1963), 41 D.L.R. (2d) 53
  2. Possibility of damage
    • The Wagon Mound (No. 2), [1967] 1 A.C. 617*
    • Mustapha v. Culligan of Canada., [2008] 2 S.C.R. 114
  3. The relationship between duty, proximity and remoteness: Palsgraf revisited
    • Palsgraf v. Long Island Railroad (1928), 162 N.E. 99*

3. Particular categories of damage

i.     Thin skulls

ii.     Psychiatric harm

  1. Modified thin skull rule
    • Vanek v. Great Atlantic & Pacific Company of Canada (1999), 48 O.R. (3d) 228
    • Mustapha v. Culligan of Canada, [2008] 2 S.C.R. 114*
  2. Need to have witnessed events
    • Rhodes v. Canadian National Railway (1989), 75 D.L.R. (4th) 248
    • McLoughlin v. O’Brien, [1983] 1 A.C. 410
    • Alcock v. Chief Constable of South Yorkshire Police, [1991] 3 W.L.R. 1057

iii.     Economic Loss

  1. Negligent misstatement

a. Duty of care

i.     Foreseeability and proximity

ii.     Policy reasons

iii.     Disclaimers

  1. Misrepresentation
    • Spinks v. Canada, [1996] 2 F.C. 563
  2. Negligence
    • Queen v. Cognos, [1993] 1 S.C.R. 87
  3. Detrimental reliance
    • Ramdath v. George Brown College of Applied Arts and Technology, 2013 ONCA 468
  4. Negligent performance of a service
    • B.D.C. v. Hofstrand Farms, [1986] 1 S.C.R. 228
    • Ross v. Caunters, [1980] Ch. 297
  5. Defective products
    • Winnipeg Condominium v. Bird Construction, [1995] 1 S.C.R. 85*
  6. Relational Economic Loss
    • Canadian National Railway v. Norsk Pacific Steamship, [1992] 1 S.C.R. 1021*
    • Bow Valley Huskey (Bermuda) v. Saint John Shipbuilding (1997), 153 D.L.R. (4th) 385

 4. What can the plaintiff recover?

J. Defences to Negligence: Week 10

Reading: Osborne, 107-118; LKF (extracts from key cases), 431-462 

1. Contributory Fault

i.     The traditional approach

ii.     The modern approach

iii.     Determining fault

iv.     The seatbelt rule

v.     Joint and several liability

2. Voluntary Assumption of Risk

i.     A defence to negligence

ii.     High threshold for application

iii.     Express or implied agreement

iv.     Waiver clauses

v.     Sports

3. Illegality/Ex Turpi Causa

i.     Barring recovery on basis of immoral or illegal conduct

ii.     Relationship between ex turpi causa and modern apportionment legislation

 4. Public Authorities

K. Liability of Public Authorities: Week 11

 Reading: Osborne, 213-231; LKF (extracts from key cases), 509-528

1. Negligence

i.     Foreseeability and Proximity

ii.     The distinction between policy and operations

iii.     Residual policy considerations

iv.     Invalidity

2. Misfeasance in Public Office

i.     Public officer

ii.     Unlawful conduct in the exercise of a public function

iii.     Malice or knowledge

iv.     Causing a legally recognized injury

3. Malicious Prosecution

i.     Institution of criminal proceedings

ii.     Proceedings concluded favourably to plaintiff

iii.     Absence of reasonable and probable cause

iv.     Improper purpose, not honest belief in guilt

4. Immunities

i.     Legislative activity

ii.     Judicial and quasi-judicial decisions

iii.     Armed conflict

 5. Extensions and Modifications of Liability 

L. Vicarious Liability and Statutory Schemes: Week 12

Reading: Osborne, 361-375; LKF (extracts from key cases), 560-574; 775-785

1. Vicarious Liability

i.     Respondeat superior

  1. Commission of a tort
    • Lister v. Romford Ice & Cold Storage, [1957] 1 All E.R. 125
    • Douglas v. Kinger (Litigation guardian of) (2008), 166 A.C.W.S. (3d) 793
  2. Relationship of control
    • 671122 Ontario v. Sagaz Industries Canada, [2001] 2 S.C.R. 983*
    • K.L.B. v. British Columbia, [2003] 2 S.C.R. 403
  3. Scope of employment
    • Lloyd v. Grace, Smith, [1912] A.C. 716
    • Mattis v. Pollock, [2004] 4 All E.R. 85
    • Bazley v. Currie, [1999] 2 S.C.R. 534*
    • Jacobi v. Griffiths, [1999] 2 S.C.R. 570*
    • G. (E.D.) v. Hammer, [2003] 2 S.C.R. 459
  4. Joint vicarious liability
    • Blackwater v. Plint, [2005] 3 S.C.R. 3

ii.     Vicarious liability and public authorities

iii.     Non-delegable duties

  1. Personal responsibility to secure safety
    • Wilsons v. Clyde Coal, [1938] A.C. 57
    • Lewis (Guardian ad litem of) v. British Columbia, [1997] 3 S.C.R. 1145
    • K.L.B. v. British Columbia, [2003] 2 S.C.R. 403
  2. Intrinsically dangerous work
    • Scarmar Constructions v. Geddes Contracting (1989), 61 D.L.R. (4th) 328

iv.     Direct liability

v.     Partners and agents

vi.     Statutory extensions of vicarious liability



  1. Workers’ Compensation
    • Workers’ Compensation Act, R.S.A. 2000, c. W-15
    • Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board v. Penney (1980), 38 N.S.R. (2d) 623
    • Ferneyhough v. Workers’ Compensation Appeals Tribunal, 189 N.S.R. (2d) 76
    • Alberta (Workers’ Compensation Board) v Alberta (Appeals Commission for Alberta Workers’ Compensation), 2012 ABQB 733
    • Rabin, “Reflections on Tort and the Administrative State” (2012), 61 De Paul L.R. 239
  2. Human Rights Tribunals
    • Human Rights Code, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 210, s. 37
    • Walsh v. Mobil Oil Canada, 2013 ABCA 238
  3. Criminal Injuries Compensation
    • Jones (by Caldwell) v. Upper Tribunal, [2013] UKSC 19
  4. No-fault automobile insurance




6. Conclusion

M. Constitutional Issues: Week 13

 Reading: LKF (extracts from key cases), 653-659

1. Scope of Tort

i.     Need for balance

ii.     Failure to protect constitutionally guaranteed interests

2. Human Rights and Tort

3. Federalism and Tort

i.     Overlapping functions

ii.     Identifying conflicts

iii.     Could it happen in Canada?


This content has been updated on August 23, 2014 at 12:19.