Over the past several decades, a major effort has been underway abroad to modernize the civil justice system of foreign countries by patterning and
effectively exporting the legal devices and strategies of the United States. Foreign countries, eager to improve upon the perceived inability of some individuals to obtain legal recourse for certain harms, often look to elements of the United States tort system as a model. Exporting tort law components of what may be perceived to be a comprehensively-developed and battletested United States system, however, can rarely be accomplished by a simple “copy and paste” into foreign tort law.

The United States tort law system is comparatively more complex than in other countries, making it difficult to carve out select, portable pieces. Of equal importance is that there is no “national” United States tort law, but rather a system of tort principles developed by courts in different jurisdictions. Because of the often misunderstood complexities of our tort system, the core objectives of the exported law can become distorted and perhaps even counterproductive when separated and randomly inserted into a new and different system. Critical legal concepts run the risk of being lost in translation.

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