Theorizing the Institutional Tortfeasor


  • Margaret Isabel Hall Associate Professor, Faculty of Law, Thompson Rivers University.



Institutions are entities (rather than collections of individuals), with distinct characters and

identities that are most aptly explained in terms of institutional culture. The perceptions and

actions of individuals embedded in a particular institutional culture are, to a significant

extent, caused by that culture. This understanding of the relationship between institutional

culture and institutional actors has been incisively theorized in other disciplines, but is

virtually absent from tort law. As institutions have become increasingly important players

in social life, in comparison with individuals acting qua individuals, the absence of a robust

theory of the institutional tortfeasor has marginalized tort law and will continue to do

so. Coherent theorization of an institutional tortfeasor requires the translation of ideas

about organizational culture and identity into the language of tort doctrine.