oa Comparative and International Law Journal of Southern Africa - Public policy in Anglo-Americal law

Volume 19, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 0010-4051



Over the past ten or twenty years there have been an increasing number of references to "public policy" (or similar phrases) by judges in the common law countries of Britain and her former dominions. This is an observable feature which the writer proposes to sketch by means of examples drawn largely from the field of torts. Not unnaturally, when one looks at other countries in which modern law has enjoyed a more vigorous growth, particularly in the United States, one notices the more frequent use of "public policy" as justification for certain judicial decisions. One asks oneself whether Commonwealth jurisidictions may be on the point of a comparable breakthrough into a new and exciting era of expansion of the common law. To the writer, public policy represents not so much a newly emergent independent legal doctrine as an attitude of mind, a method of approach, a frame of reference within which other legal doctrines may be measured, evaluated, tested and, if found wanting, in logic or justice, discarded.

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