Book Review: Torts: A Guide for the Perplexed

Several times each month, we are pleased to republish a recent book review from the Canadian Law Library Review (CLLR). CLLR is the official journal of the Canadian Association of Law Libraries (CALL/ACBD), and its reviews cover both practice-oriented and academic publications related to the law.

Torts: A Guide for the Perplexed. By GHL Fridman. Toronto: LexisNexis Canada, 2017. 174 p. Includes bibliographic references and index. 978-0433495543 (hardcover) $85.00.

Reviewed by Lisa Marr
Library Technician
Perley-Robertson, Hill & McDougall LLP/s.r.l
In CLLR 43:4

As a law library technician, I am ashamed to admit that before reading this book I could not easily define what a tort was, let alone any of the elements that make up a tort. Fridman’s previous books, definitive titles such as The Law of Torts in Canada and Introduction to the Canadian Law of Torts, seemed daunting to me, as they are lengthy and would require a lot of time to read them thoroughly. When I saw Torts: A Guide for the Perplexed on the book review list, and that it was a manageable 175 pages, I eagerly took the opportunity to read it.

Torts: A Guide for the Perplexed is a concise text that is more academic in nature than Fridman’s previous endeavours, which are more practical and analytical. In contrast, this book does not provide detailed analyses of recent cases; in fact, only notable cases are included to support readers’ comprehension of the history of torts.

Fridman’s writing is succinct, and his use of short paragraphs allows readers to reflect on and absorb complex ideas. For such a short book, there is a surprising number of chapters (15, plus a prologue and epilogue), but they are fairly succinct, which prevents readers from becoming overwhelmed with too much new information.

The chapter headings are descriptive and provide a good representation of the contents, which is useful if you are only interested in learning about a specific aspect. Fridman starts by clarifying major differences that readers should have a basic understanding of before delving deeper into the subject at hand. These differences include tort law and criminal law, and common law and statutory torts. Fridman provides a brief history on tort law and how it evolved, the characters who relayed the essential knowledge, and the circumstances that helped mould tort law into what it is today. He also describes how and why canon law evolved into what is currently known as common law, civil law, precedents, and jurisprudence.

Fridman defines the various categorizations of torts, explaining key ideas, elements, and characteristics that make up the nature of tort law. Misconduct, reasonableness, and liability are a few of the ideas that Fridman discusses. The book continues with chapters that focus on various aspects of tort law such as policies, economics, and jurisprudence. He finishes off the book by discussing where he believes tort law is heading and how it may evolve to meet the legal needs of our communities.

I highly recommend Torts: A Guide for the Perplexed. If I were looking for a text that further discusses any of the subjects in this book, or if I were studying law, I would consult lengthier texts such as Fridman’s The Law of Tort in Canada. I believe Torts: A Guide for the Perplexed would be beneficial for those looking for an overview of tort law without the commitment of reading one of the lengthier, more definitive texts.

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