The Casual Relation Issue in Negligence Law

Two significant legal studies of “Causation”-one English, one American-have been recently published. The English book brings to the subject more scholarly learning and a more comprehensive examination of its literature than any other book that has been written. The authors are devoted disciples of causation principles and make a stout defense of the causation concept as the structural core of negligence law. They examine the philosophical, common sense and semantic backgrounds of causal concepts as the basis of legal liability, find that they have merit, and launch extended, and sometimes devastating, attack upon theories that question their adequacy, though in some instances their understanding of the subject of their attack seems only peripheral. They give slight attention to the administrative, economic, moral, and other environmental factors that have conditioned the decisions of courts -indeed they greatly discount policy considerations as limitations on liability-nor do they adequately consider the procedural apparatus of the litigation process in allocating the functions of judge and jury. Whatever the disagreement with respect to the details of the analysis, arguments, and the use made of the numerous cases reviewed by the authors, their ambitious and enlightened discourse excites admiration. Their exposition is chaste, crisp, and clear, and their arguments have appeal. In the main their efforts are given to reading sense into traditional and historical usages of the cause concept though they reject much of the metaphorical and metaphysical terminology found in the opinions of the courts and the writing of commentators. Nothing short of the reading of the book will suffice to indicate their serious probing of all phases of causation in the law and the high quality of advocacy devoted to bolstering the waning influence of cause doctrines in the determination of the liabilities and reparation of litigants.