Course Title: Law of torts

Part B: Course Detail

Teaching Period: Term1 2011

Course Code: LAW5183

Course Title: Law of torts

School: 650T TAFE Business

Campus: City Campus

Program: C6106 - Advanced Diploma of Legal Practice

Course Contact : Doug Gourlay

Course Contact Phone: +61 3 9925 5944

Course Contact

Name and Contact Details of All Other Relevant Staff

Nominal Hours: 51

Regardless of the mode of delivery, represent a guide to the relative teaching time and student effort required to successfully achieve a particular competency/module. This may include not only scheduled classes or workplace visits but also the amount of effort required to undertake, evaluate and complete all assessment requirements, including any non-classroom activities.

Pre-requisites and Co-requisites

Pre-requisites:  VU20111 Legal Process

Course Description

The purpose of this module is to provide a detailed knowledge and skills in the Law of Torts as might be relevant for a person engaged in the operation of a legal office, or associated fields in the public or corporate sectors.

National Codes, Titles, Elements and Performance Criteria

National Element Code & Title:

VU20107 Law of torts

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcome 1 - Analyse the term “tort”, determine those affected by the law of tort and assess the aims and rationale behind the law of tort.
Assessment criteria
1.1 Determine and specify the nature and meaning of the term tort.
1.2 Examine the historic origins of tort law.
1.3 Distinguish tort from crime, breach of contract, trust or other obligations.
1.4 Examine the nature of the interests protected by the law of torts.
1.5 Analyse the aims and rationale of the law of tort and discuss the need for statutory intervention.

Learning Outcome 2 - Analyse the elements of negligence, determine possible defences to a negligence action and examine damages recoverable in a negligence action
Assessment criteria
2.1 Define the term negligence and analyse its concepts.
2.2 Examine possible defences to a negligence action.
2.3 Evaluate means of proving negligence including burden of proof, standard of proof, the use of expert evidence and application of the res ipsa loquitur concept.
2.4 Examine the nature of damages that may be obtained in a negligence action.
2.5 Analyse legislative limits on negligence actions including thresholds, limitation periods and reduced liability in defined circumstances

Learning Outcome 3 - Analyse issues relating to particular categories of negligence.
Assessment criteria
3.1 Define and specify the principles of occupier’s liability. Examine and evaluate the provisions of the occupier’s liability provisions of the Wrongs Act 1958 (Vic).
3.2 Examine the circumstances in which there can be liability for negligent misstatement causing economic loss.
3.3 Analyse the principle of vicarious liability.
3.4 Specify the circumstances in which there can be liability for negligently inflicted purely psychological harm in the absence of physical injury.
3.5 Identify the legal principles relating to liability for harm caused by defective products including the provision of Part VA of the Trade Practices Act 1974 (Cth).

Learning Outcome 4 - Analyse principles of strict liability.
Assessment criteria
4.1 Determine the principles of strict liability.
4.2 Compare strict liability with fault based liability.
4.3 Analyse the available defences to a strict liability claim.
4.4 Consider, as an example, liability for animals under the Domestic (Feral and Nuisance) Animals Act 1994 (Vic).

Learning Outcome 5 - Analyse and evaluate the various no-fault compensation schemes currently operating in Victoria and the Commonwealth.
Assessment criteria
5.1 Explore the history and basis of the statutory schemes.
5.2 Analyse the no-fault scheme regarding injury arising from a transport accident.
5.3 Evaluate and specify the current compensation schemes for employment related injuries or diseases, both in Victoria and the Commonwealth.
5.4 Identify when common law remedies remain available in transport and employment related situations.
5.5 Evaluate the problems arising from the statutory schemes and investigate the advantages and disadvantages of the schemes.

Learning Outcome 6 - Analyse the law relating to the intentional tort of trespass to the person.
Assessment criteria
6.1 Define the term assault and identify its elements in tort law.
6.2 Define the nature of battery and identify its elements in tort law.
6.3 Define false imprisonment and identify its elements in tort law.
6.4 Identify the elements of intentionally causing harm in tort law.
6.5 Evaluate the possible defences to trespass to the person.

Learning Outcome 7 - Analyse the elements of torts designed to protect interests in land.
Assessment criteria
7.1 Examine the elements of and defences to the intentional tort of trespass to land.
7.2 Analyse the tort of private nuisance and distinguish from the tort of public nuisance.
7.3 Identify the remedies available for interference with interests in land.

Learning Outcome 8 - Analyse and assess intentional torts relating to interference with interests in goods.
Assessment criteria
8.1 Differentiate between the elements of the torts of trespass to goods, conversion and detinue and identify the respects in which these torts overlap.
8.2 Examine the nature of the remedies available to a successful plaintiff in trespass to goods, conversion and detinue.

Learning Outcome 9 - Analyse, evaluate and specify the elements of defamation, analyse the possible defences to a defamation action and developments in relation to protection of privacy.
Assessment criteria
9.1 Analyse the relevant principles of defamation law.
9.2 Evaluate and define the elements of defamation.
9.3 Identify and outline the defences to a defamation action at common law and in legislation.
9.4 Determine the possible remedies to a defamation action:
       • Types of damages
       • Injunction
       • Impact of an apology and offers to make amends
9.5 Examine the developments in relation to the protection of privacy.

Details of Learning Activities

The week by week classes as per the teaching schedule below and assessments, including due dates, are subject to variation, but I will try to keep as close as practicable to that set out in this Part B Statement.

Teaching Schedule

Week beginningTopicAssessment
 Week 1 – 7 Feb Orientation 
 Week 2 – 14 Feb

Nature, sources and purpose of law of tort law. Classification of torts.

 Week 3 – 21 Feb Assault and battery 
 Week 4 – 28 FebFalse imprisonment.  
 Week 5 – 7 MarchTorts relating to Land – trespass and nuisance 
 Week 6 – 14 March   No classes - prepare case study due next week

 Case study assignment due Thursday 17March (20 marks) Labour Day holiday Monday 14 March

 Week 7 – 21 March Torts relating to goods.
Defences and remedies for intentional torts.
 Week 8 – 28 March  Defamation class Reflections 1-4 due (10 marks)
 Week 9 –  4 April In class open book test (20 marks) In class open book test (20 marks)
 Week 10 – 11 April   Classes on negligence start – duty of care 
Week 11 – 18 April Breach of duty of care  
 Vacation 21-27 AprilMid-semester break (Student vacation) Easter holiday period including ANZAC Day holiday
Week 12 – 2 May  Proof of negligence, causation and remoteness of damage  
 Week 13 – 9 May  Defences to negligence claims and types of damage.  
 Week 14 – 16 May  Liability for defective goods, occupier’s liability & vicarious liability  Reflections 5-8 due (10 marks)
 Week 15 – 23 May Statutory compensation schemes  
 Week 16 – 30 May  In class Final Test (Open Book) (40 marks) In class Final Test (Open Book) (40 marks)
 Week 17 – 6 June   
 Week 18 –13 June   Queen’s Birthday public holiday Monday 14 June

Learning Resources

Prescribed Texts

There is no prescribed text, but I recommend: 1. Mendelson, Danuta The New Law of Torts 2nd edition (Oxford); 2. McGlone + Stickley Australian Torts Law 2nd edition (Butterworths); 3. Davies + Malkin Torts 5th edition (Butterworths)


Fleming, Law of Torts, LBC

McGlone + Stickley, Australian Torts Law , 2nd edition Butterworths

Morrison and Sappideen, Torts, Commentary and Materials 9th edition, LBC

Trindale and Cane, Law of Torts in Australia, Oxford University Press

Clarke - Devereux, Torts– A Practical Learning Approach - Butterworths

Winfield and Jolowicz, Tort, Sweet and Maxwell

Luntz Hambly Burns Dietrich Foster, Torts, Cases and Commentary, 6th ed Butterworths

Balkin and Davis, Law of Torts, 3rd edition Butterworths

Other Resources

Online Resources:
Australasian Legal Information Institute (

CCH Online (

ComLaw (

LexisNexis Butterworths Online (

Transport Accident Commission (

Victorian Legislation and Parliamentary Documents (

Workcover (

High Court of Australia (

Federal Court of Australia (

Federal Magistrates Court (

Supreme Court of Victoria (

County Court of Victoria (

Magistrates’ Court of Victoria (

Acts and subordinate legislation (Victoria & Commonwealth)

• Accident Compensation Act 1985 (Victoria & Commonwealth)
• Confiscation Act, 1997 (Vic)
• Domestic(Feral and Nuisance) Animals Act 1994 (Vic.)
• Goods Act, 1958 (Vic)
• Sentencing Act, 1991 (Vic)
• Transport Accidents Act 1986 (Vic.)
• Victims of Crime Assistance Act, 1996 (Vic)
• Wrongs Act 1958 (Vic.)
• Health and Other Services (Compensation) Act, 1995 (C’th)
• Health Insurance Act,1973 (C’th)
• Social Security Act, 1991 (C’th)
• Trade Practices Act, 1974 (C’th)
• Volunteer Protection Act, 2003 No.2 (C’th

Overview of Assessment

Assessment methods have been designed to measure achievement of the requirements in a flexible manner over a range of assessment tasks, and may include:

•  written tests
•  class discussion
•  case study analysis
•  assignments

Students are advised that they are likely to be asked to personally demonstrate their assessment work to their teacher to ensure that the relevant competency standards are being met.

Assessment Tasks

Assessment that learning outcomes have been achieved will be by:

1. Case study assignment (due week 6)               20%
2. Participation /reflections (due weeks 8 & 14 )  20%
3. Open book in class test (week 9)                        20%
4. Final test (open book – (week 16)                       40%

Assessment 1 Case Study (see “Assignments” on the learning hub) where you are asked a series of questions relating to a case or cases concerning assault, battery, wrongful imprisonment and damages, being topics covered in the classes in weeks 2 and 3. You have to submit typed answers by your class in week 6 and you will be marked out of 20

Assessment 2 Participation / reflections are to encourage students to participate in classes and to consider important issues raised in classes. Reflections 1-4 will be assessed / marked out of 10 marks in week 8 and reflections 5-8 assessed out of 10 marks in week 14

 Assessment 3 is an open book test in the classes in week 9 where you will have to answer 2 out of a choice of 3 questions on the topics covered in classes 2-8. The time allocated is 90 minutes plus 15 minutes reading time. The test is open book asessed out of 20 marks

Assessment 4 is the final open book test worth 40 marks scheduled for week 16 where you will probably have to answer 3 major questions in 2 hours including reading time.

To pass this course students must satisfactorily complete all assessment and have a total mark of not less than 50%.

Assessment Matrix

Learning outcome  
Written reflectionsCase studyTest 1Final test
 Analyse the term “tort”, determine those affected by the law of tort and assess the aims and rationale behind the law of tort. X   
 Analyse the law relating to trespass to the person. X X X 
 Analyse the elements of negligence, and determine possible defences to a negligence action. X   X
 Analyse the legal principles relating to negligent misrepresentation and negligently causing psychological injury. X   X
 Analyse the elements of torts designed to protect interests in land. X  X 
 Analyse and assess torts relating to interference with interests in goods. X  X 
 Analyse vicarious liability, occupier’s liability and strict liability and examine the principles applicable to a successful claim in each. X X  X
 Analyse and evaluate the various no-fault compensation schemes presently operating in Victoria and the Commonwealth.   X
 Analyse, evaluate and specify the elements of defamation and analyse the possible defences to a defamation action. X  X 

Other Information

My aim is students enjoy this interesting course.  Hopefully, far more than I have in preparing this Part B course detail.

The complete syllabus for the Law of Torts is on the course site on this RMIT learning hub at .  Please refer to it for details of the learning outcomes and assessment criteria.

Course Overview: Access Course Overview