29 March 2006

Occam's Law

Sometimes, the simplest solution is one of the best:
A Canadian province wants to make it easier for people to say they are sorry without the fear of being sued.

British Columbia proposed legislation on Tuesday to allow people, companies and public officials to apologize without it becoming an admission of liability.

"There are times when an apology is very important and appropriate, but the legal implications have been uncertain," Attorney General Wally Oppal said.

It seems somewhat sad that our society (I'm including our bretheren to the North because they're not even a real country anyway) is so litigation-conscious that there is a need to specifically allow the simple "I'm sorry" (or "I'm sorry, eh" as the case may be). We've all known since we were children that a timely expression of regret, even when the other person is more at fault, often helps to defuse a difficult situation. If "I'm sorry" isn't enough in itself to set things right, it often paves the way for the parties involved to find a mutually-satisfactory solution.

Allowing people to say "I'm sorry" without it being deemed later to be an admission of fault is so simple it's brilliant; in a sense, this concept is already present in the Federal Rules of Evidence. FRE 407 provides:
When, after an injury or harm allegedly caused by an event, measures are taken that, if taken previously, would have made the injury or harm less likely to occur, evidence of the subsequent measures is not admissible to prove negligence, culpable conduct, a defect in a product, a defect in a product's design, or a need for a warning or instruction. This rule does not require the exclusion of evidence of subsequent measures when offered for another purpose, such as proving ownership, control, or feasibility of precautionary measures, if controverted, or impeachment.

In the immediate aftermath of one of the minor injuries we cause to one another every day -- like spilling a drink on a nearby diner, dinging the car in the adjacent parking space, or punching a Capitol Hill police officer -- what is a prompt apology if not a subsequent remedial measure?

By the way, to all those Northern Americans Canadians who took offense to my prior comments, I'm sorry.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

hello, i am a 15 year old canadian girl who has just read " Occam's Law" and beleive you have much reason in you thinking of such a simple concept but offended by such remarks as " i am sorry, eh" and " not even a real country". we canadians are as rich in history as the americans and have fought for our right to be treated with as much respect as you. though you apologized for such comments, i feel that this was sarcasm due to your final paraghraph before the apology was stated. it says " punching a Capitol Hill police officer", and this leads me to beleive that your apology was still an intended slap in the face towards Canadians.
Thank you for your time.