Negligence and Intoxication - Has Civil Liability Reform Gone Too Far?

Norman Katter


This paper focuses on two recent appeals1 before the High Court of Australia
involving negligence actions for damages by intoxicated plaintiffs. The analysis of these pre-statutory reform cases, in the light of the new civil liability legislation, suggests that some of the statutory reforms are an overreaction by parliaments, and fail to strike a balance between, on the one hand, the legitimate pursuit of compensation where the defendant’s blameworthy conduct has caused damage and on the other, the limitation of negligence litigation by an attitudinal change towards personal responsibility for one’s actions and choices, thereby shifting the loss to the victim where the latter’s conduct has been instrumental in causing its own damage.

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