There are two stimuli for this talk. Firstly, it is good, from time to time, to lift our heads above the detail, the practical administration of the law, and ask ourselves in a broader sense what we are about. The second stimulus came as I listened to a section of this lecture given last year by my most distinguished predecessor, Lord Sumption. Those of you who were present may recall that, towards the end of his talk, he suggested that our system of tort damages should in effect be abolished, in favour of a no-fault insurance system, stripping out the cost and trouble of deciding fault, and focussing simply on the assessment of the award. Somewhat wistfully, he immediately went on to say his suggestion would never be put into practice however, because it would cost too much.