The floodgates argument

August 13, 2019 Michael 0 Comments

Throughout my legal training I learned a few things and forgot more but one thing I can remember with more clarity than many others is the floodgates argument. This was, as I recall, the term used to describe one of the considerations that courts and lawyers should have in their minds when making a decision or a verbal indication that would or may have the effect of changing or developing that law. This would usually be in situations where existing case law was about to be distinguished or departed from or where the mind and intention of parliament was about be considered when putting into effect or interpreting statute.

In short a judge must consider;
If I make this decision then will a whole raft of other similar individuals with similar cases suddenly descend upon the legal system and bring us to a point where our legal system is unable to cope with the sheer volume of work put before it.

If you are a lawyer (and actually if not) then I would really like to hear from With your comments or contributions on the following:-
  1. I’m looking for an example or examples of the “floodgates opening”
  2. To the extent that you can identify such an occurrence, can you also identify the decision or decisions that caused this to happen?
  3. Is the “floodgates argument” actually to do with the volume of work the courts would have to get through or is it actually about courts interpreting and giving voice to what we wish to tolerate, encourage or condone as a society?

I have a theory obviously but would like to know what other’s think.
Please put your comments below. Thank you for your time and consideration. See Wikipedia on the floodgates argument.
The floodgates argument was last modified: May 15th, 2020 by Michael

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