Scope of Tort Law

Scope of Tort Law

The main aim of implementing tort law was to use it as a tool to make people to follow the behaviour of a reasonable prudent man and to make them respectful towards each other’s rights and duties.In order to achieve its aim law of torts allows the victim to claim compensation for the infringement of his right.

But here it is needed to be mentioned that only certain accepted pattern of behaviour is recognised by law which when infringed by others becomes redressal under tort law. Hence all expectations of individuals or group of individuals are not redressable as only recognised interests are protected by law.

Thus to summarise the scope of tort one can conclude that every wrongful act is not a tort. To constitute a tort,

a) Commission of wrongful act by a person;

b) The nature of the wrongful act should be such to have a resort to legal remedy and

c) Unliquidated damages should be the legal remedy for the wrongful act.

I. Wrongful Act

An act becomes a wrongful act if only it violates a legal right of another individual.

In Rogers v. Ranjendro Dutt, the Judges opined that the act for which the plaintiff is complaining should be a legal wrongful act. Thus, mere harm in to another person’s interest is not sufficient but the act should be in prejudice to his legal right.

‘A legal right, as defined by Austin, is a faculty which resides in a determinate party or parties by virtue of a given law, and which avails against a party (or parties or answers to a duty lying on a party or parties) other than the party or parties in whom it resides. Rights available against the world at large are very numerous.

They may be divided again into public rights and private rights. Every right carries a legal duty or obligation to perform some act or refrain from performing an act. Therefore, liability for tort arises, when the wrongful act complained of amounts to either an infringement of a legal private right or a breach or violation of a legal duty.’

II. Damage

Generally, a tort consists of some act done by a person which causes injury to another and for which damages are claimed by the latter against the former. One must have a clear notion with regard to the words damage and damages to understand this.

Ordinarily to convey any loss, injury or if anyone is deprived from anything the word damage is used, whereas damages mean the compensation claimed by the injured party and awarded by the court. Damages are claimed and awarded by the court to the parties.

The word injury is strictly limited to an actionable wrong, while damage means loss or harm occurring in fact, whether actionable as an injury or not.

The real importance of a legal damage is explained by two maxims, namely, Damnum Sine Injuria and Injuria Sine Damno.

(i) Damnum Sine Injuria (Damage in absence of Injury)

There are several acts that in spite of being’ harmful aren’t wrongful and provides no right of action to one who suffers from their effects. Damage thus done and suffered is termed Damnum sine Injuria or damage in absence of injury. Damage while not breach of a right won’t represent a tort.

They’re instances of damage suffered from excusable acts. An act or omission committed with lawful justification or excuse won’t be a explanation for action even if’ it ends up in hurt to a different as a mix in furtherance of trade interest or lawful user of one’s own premises.

In Gloucester Grammar School Master Case it had been decided that the litigator school master had no right to complain of the gap of a replacement school. The injury suffered was mere damnum absque injuria or Damage in absence of Injury.

Acton v. Blundell within which a mill owner drained off underground water running into the plaintiff’s well, totally illustrate that no action lays for mere damage, even if it’s substantial, caused though it does not violate others right.
Other than legal wrongs there can some moral wrongs for which there is no legal remedy, in spite of the fact that those moral wrongs can actual cause real loss or damage.

Thus, loss or injury is not sufficient enough to give rise to a valid cause of action unless it has caused any legal injury i.e. violationviolation of legal right.

(ii) Injuria sine Damno (injury in absence of damage)

This means an act which causes infringement of a legal personal right with none actual loss or injury. In such a case the person whose right has been infringed incorporates a smart explanation for action.

It’s not necessary for him to prove any special damage as a result of each injury as each injury imports a damage once a person is hindered of his right.

Every person has an absolute right to property, to the immunity of his person, and to his liberty, and an infringement of this right is unjust as such. Actual perceptible injury isn’t, therefore, essential to be the foundation of associate an action.

It’s decent to point out the violation of a right within which case the law can presume injury. Therefore in cases of assault, battery, imprisonment, libel, trespass toward land, etc., the mere wrongful act is unjust while not proof of special injury.

The court is sure to award to the litigator a minimum of nominal damages if no actual damage is evidenced.

This principle was firmly established by the election case of Ashby v. White,in which the plaintiff was unlawfully detained and prevented by the returning officer in Parliamentary election from casting his vote.

Against which the plaintiff sued the defendant even though no actual loss was caused to him in real sense as the candidate to whom he would have casted his vote had in any case won the election.

In this case the plaintiff claim for compensation for malicious prosecution was acknowledged and Lord Holt expressed here that as the plaintiff’s legal right was infringed, legal injury was caused to him and hence his loss was actionable under law of torts.

III. Remedies

The maxim ‘ubi jus ibi remedium’ which means ‘there is no wrong without a remedy’ is the core behind the evolution of law of torts. When any right is vested in an individual it only makes sense if in event of its violation it can be enforced by way of legal remedy. Hence, a right is meaningless if there lies no remedy for its infringement.


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