The Contributory negligence Act and the Tortfeasors Act are valuable pieces of law reform and have made fundamental improvements in tort law. However, there are some gaps in the Acts that give rise to problems of interpretation. This report examines the Acts in order to reconcile them, to clarify them, to fill in any gaps, and to consider whether or not their principles should be extended to cases not currently included within them.
This report recommends that the Contributory Negligence Act and the Tortfeasors Act should be consolidated into one statute. The report also recommends that the doctrine of last clear chance be abolished; that the defence of contributory negligence should be available to any tortfeasor whether or not the tort is intentional or criminal; that the partial defence of contributory negligence be available where there is a breach of a duty of care arising from a contract; that the statute should not deal with set-off of judgments, but that set-off should continue to be a matter for discretion; and that liability of concurrent tortfeasors should continue to be joint and several. Other recommendations are included in the draft legislation included in this report.