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Article
The effect of Acts of God and coincidences on the chain of causation: comparative common law and civil law perspectives
Tort Law review (2012)
  • Douglas Hodgson, The University of Notre Dame Australia
Abstract
Historically, intervening causation issues have not been systematically and
definitively addressed in the legal literature. Such issues, as a subspecies of
causation law, can be quite complex and difficult to judicially resolve, but they
can and do commonly arise across a broad spectrum of human activity.
Novus actus interveniens (the Latin maxim adopted by common law judges)
has been pleaded from time to time over the past 150 years or so in cases
involving so-called “acts of God” (or, according to taste, extraordinary natural
phenomena or force majeure) and coincidental events. This article examines
when, in each scenario, the chain of causation between the defendant’s
negligence and the plaintiff’s injuries or loss will be held to have been broken
by each of these intervening events and identifies the relevant legal tests.
More specifically, what events qualify as acts of God and what is the main
distinction between them and coincidences? The common law and civil law
approaches to resolving intervening causation issues are compared and
contrasted with a view to identifying the core principles and distinctions which
inform judicial reasoning and decision-making in these contexts.
Disciplines
Publication Date
2012
Citation Information
Hodgson, D. (2012). The effect of acts of God and coincidences on the chain of causation: comparative common law and civil law perspectives. Tort Law review, 20(2), 77-89