The decision of the House of Lords in Junior Books Ltd. v. Veitchi Ltd. represents an unwarranted development in the law of tort and contract, unless its rationale and limitations are fully appreciated. This reform in such an important area is premature "in the absence of hard data on the probable impact of such an extension of liability.” Much of the published commentary on recovery of economic loss in tort, and on this decision in particular, has been written from the ex post perspective of accident compensation doctrine and theory. Most writers have been concerned with the development of positive rules of law designed to provide compensation and redress to an individual who alleges a loss or injury to his economic interests. This paper takes a different approach, and examines the larger social and economic issues. It is important to articulate private legal rules and policies (developed incrementally in contract and tort claims, or more dramatically in regulatory agendas) insofar as they encourage or prevent individual choice to be exercised in decisions to assume risks to economic interests. Junior Books is simply an incremental development in the evolution of legal rules which may restrict choice, and which provide individuals with protection against the occurrence of an expanding universe of risks. Whether that is desirable depends on one's view of distributive justice, individual autonomy and efficient allocation of risk.
David Cohen, Bleeding Hearts and Peeling Floors: Compensation for Economic Loss at the House of Lords, 18 U. Brit. Colum. L. Rev. 289 (1984), http://digitalcommons.pace.edu/lawfaculty/427/.