Dalhousie Journal of Legal Studies


Canadian courts use simple probability reasoning inconsistently in personal injury litigation, subjecting litigants to irregular legal principles and potentially improper compensation. Turning to foundational principles of tort litigation, I suggest a new framework for the availability of simple probability that would promote greater coherence. Simple probability reasoning is understood as an alternative standard of proof that enables compensation for a loss proportional to the likelihood that the loss will occur. Accordingly, the availability of simple probability is thought to depend on which types of facts (past vs. future vs. hypothetical facts) are amenable to balance of probabilities proof versus simple probability. This is the ‘type of fact’ framework, but it is not applied consistently. Part 1 argues that the inconsistency is rooted in the mischaracterization of simple probability reasoning as a standard of proof. It is better conceived of as a method of enabling chances, in their own right, to become legally relevant facts. Understood this way, simple probability is available only where chances are relevant to the legal determination at stake. I apply this characterization in Part 2, concluding that while simple probability reasoning is irrelevant to liability determinations, it is crucial in appropriately assessing damages.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.