Tort Law in a Peanut

Tort Law in a Peanut
If contracts is the law of deals, torts is the law of duties.

—from Tort Law in a Peanut, by John L. Akula

"The interests protected by tort law are diverse and changing. Some of the key ones, but by no means all, are the following:

  • The interest in bodily integrity, and in particular the right to be free from offensive or harmful touchings. The commonest violation of this interest is the tort of ASSAULT (posing a threat of an offensive or harmful touching) or BATTERY (the offensive or harmful touching itself). If the interest threatened is life itself, the violation is the tort of WRONGFUL DEATH.
  • The interest in being free to move about, the violation of which is the tort of FALSE IMPRISONMENT.
  • The interest in one's reputation. The violation of this interest is DEFAMATION, which may take the form of LIBEL (written defamation) or SLANDER (spoken defamation).
  • The interest in controlling access to one's home or place of business. The violation of this interest is TRESPASS.
  • The interest against unreasonable interference with the use and enjoyment of one's residence or place of business, which would be the tort of NUISANCE.

Since tort law has been around a long time, much of its terminology sounds archaic, but as social expectations have changed, torts have been expanded, or new torts have arisen.

The more "modern" torts include:

  • The infliction of EMOTIONAL DISTRESS; and
  • PRODUCTS LIABILITY, designed to protect the interest of consumers in protection from bodily harm from consumer products.

In fact, as society's sense of duties changes, these changes are almost always reflected in tort law, which is the most elastic of the major bodies of private law." [Emphasis mine]

It's vital to study legal matters, whether you're a new entrepreneur or seasoned Managing Director, and work to become ever more legally astute. The reason has to do with what technology does to people and their collective expectations.

Law is a field of study and sector of human endeavor concerned with fairness, justice, agreements, and rules. It's the tacit framework of human interaction.

Anyone in the business of business—that is, increasing capital, capturing value, growing profit—would do well to take as their responsibility to manage risk and anticipate potential legal troubles, if for no other reason than protection and survival. In a very real sense, it is your duty.

Tort Law in a Peanut is a classic primer worth revisiting. It's a reminder that there is more to legal concerns than contracts and agreements. Our current age of machine learning, data tracking, and artificial intelligence engines is particularly vulnerable to breaches of tort law due to latent concerns about privacy, intrusion, and fraudulent attribution (defamation).

How is modern technology changing society's sense of duties, and where is this change reflected in our legal obligations?

It's always worth checking in on this most elastic of the major bodies of private law.