Judges, child trespassers and occupiers' liability

BENNETT, Luke (2011). Judges, child trespassers and occupiers' liability. International Journal of Law in the Built Environment, 3 (2), 126-145.

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Link to published version:: https://doi.org/10.1108/17561451111148248


This paper analyses how the doctrine of occupiers’ liability for the safety of child trespassers has been developed in English Law over the last 100 years by applying Pierre Bourdieu’s theorising of the operation of the ‘juridical field’ (Bourdieu, 1987). The paper presents a doctrinal analysis tracing the evolution of occupiers’ liability across case law, legislation and policy in English Law and subjects these jurisprudential materials to a contextual socio-legal analysis by examining both judicial discourse and the changing cultural and physical contexts within which the jurisprudence has developed. The analysis outlines the tensions and subtleties of the doctrinal evolution of this area of the law and the ways in which both changes in social attitudes (e.g. to parental responsibility and children’s play) and changes in the built environment have affected how the appellate judiciary have understood and applied occupiers’ liability law to instances of harm suffered by child trespassers. The analysis finds Bourdieu’s theorising of the juridical field to be an effective way of making sense of the senior judiciary’s operation as an ‘interpretive community’ (Fish, 1980, 1989) in developing and practising this body of law. This paper provides an empirical explication of key aspects of Bourdieu’s abstract theorising and does so by analysing an area of the law that has attracted little academic investigation: whether conventional jurisprudential or socio-legal. This paper attempts to show that it is possible (and for this analysis, necessary) to combine both approaches. Keywords: Occupiers’ Liability – Trespass – Pierre Bourdieu – Sociology of Law.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: This published paper is a revised version of my COBRA 2010 paper entitled "Judges, Child Trespassers and Occupiers' Liability in the Built Environment". A copy of this earlier paper is available at: http://shura.shu.ac.uk/2862/
Research Institute, Centre or Group - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Law Research Group
Built Environment Division Research Group
Identification Number: https://doi.org/10.1108/17561451111148248
Page Range: 126-145
Depositing User: Helen Garner
Date Deposited: 04 Aug 2011 11:53
Last Modified: 18 Mar 2021 20:45
URI: https://shura.shu.ac.uk/id/eprint/3782

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