An introduction to Tort law : CLAT NOTES

WHY YOU SHOULD STUDY THIS ?

  1. HIGH QUALITY.

  2. BASED ON STANDARD SOURCES

  3. POSSIBILITY OF DIRECT QUESTIONS

  4. COMPLETELY SYLLABUS-ORIENTED.

GENERAL PRINCIPLES ABOUT TORT : WHAT IS A TORT ? - An alien ? Nope !

It was derived from root word “ TORTUM” – meaning – wrong. Tort simply means a deviation / civil wrong .

WHAT IS LAW OF TORT ?

Rules and conventions that deals about torts. It is uncodified legal rules, developed using judicial precedents ( cases decided by judiciary )

IMPORTANT TERMS

  • Tort feasor/ wrong doer – the person who commits the tort

  • Victim – the affected person

  • Plaintiff – the person who files the case

  • Defendant- the person against whom the case is filled.

  • Compensation- Money paid to compensate the loss caused to the victim

  • Liability – responsibility to cure the wrong committed.

DEFINITION OF TORTS : ( Need not memorize but make sure you are able to choose the correct option when asked )

1) Salmond- "Tort is civil wrong, for which remedy is a common law action for unliquidated damages, and which is not exclusively breach of contract or breach of trust, or other merely equitable obligations".

2) Winfield and Jolowics- " Tortous liability arise from the breach of a duty primarily fixed by law; this duty is towards persons generally and its breach is redressible by an action for unliquidated damages "

3) Sir Frederick Pollock - Every tort is an act or omission (not merely the breach of a duty arising out of a personal relation, or undertaken by contract) which causes harm (including interference with an absolute right, whether there be measurable actual damage or not) suffered by determinate Person .

WHAT IS REMEDY AVAILABLE IN TORT LAW ?

The tort feasor is directed to pay damages / compensation money to the victim.

WHEN A TORT IS SAID TO BE COMMITTED ?

When legal right of a person is violated – tort is said to be committed against that person

BRANCHES OF TORT :

  • Negligence – wrong committed due to lack of proper care

  • Defamation- damaging reputation of a person by making false statements

  • Trespass – Unauthorized entry into others possession.

  • Nuisance- causing annoyance

They above are few identified torts other actions may also result in tort if they violate legal right of a person

SCHOOLS OF THOUGHTS :

LAW OF TORT : According to this school of thought tort is committed when wrong is done by a person. Recognizes general torts.

LAW OF TORTS : By this school of thought tort is committed only when the action of the tort feasor falls under any one of the branches of specific torts viz. negligence, defamation etc. Recognizes specific torts alone.

Tort law divides most specific torts into three general categories:

  1. Intentional Torts – the causing of harm by an intentional act, such trespass, nuisance, assault etc

  2. Negligent Torts – the causing of harm through some negligent act.

  3. Strict Liability Torts – the result of harm incurred due to the actions of another, with no fault of the defendant- but defendant made liable.

TWO IMPORTANT PRINCIPLES IN TORT :

  1. Injuria sine damno 1) Injuria - injury to legal right 2) sine -without 3) damno - damages, monetary loss.

Meaning - injury to legal right without any monetary loss. Which implies – due to the act of tort feasor there is violation of legal right but there is no loss in money or property.

THINK ! WHETHER ACTION CAN BE TAKEN AGAINST TORT FEASOR WHEN THERE IS NO MONETARY LOSS ?

This is actionable, because there is violation of legal right, even though plaintiff suffer no loss in term of money the defendant is liable.

LANDMARK CASE:

1) Ashby v/s White, 1703.

Fact ( case story )- Plaintiff was legal voter ,his name was there in voter list. Defendant was a returning officer, i.e. incharge of election. Defendant refused the plaintiff to offer or to tender his lawful vote to his candidate. Plaintiff sued Defendant for compensation even though no loss is caused in term of money.

Issue ( question involved in the case ) - Whether defendant is liable.

Defense of Defendant ( defendant side argument ) : The plaintiff suffered no loss in money. Moreover, the candidate to whom he was about to offer /tender his vote got elected. So defendant not liable

Held ( What court said )– Defendant is liable to pay compensation because he has violated legal right of plaintiff to vote. Even though plaintiff suffered no actual loss in term of money, or the candidate to whom plaintiff was interested got elected, defendant has committed a tort and therefore liable to pay compensation.

INDIAN CASE LAW ! MUST KNOW !

Bhim Singh vs. State of Jammu and Kashmir

FACTS : Plaintiff MLA was wrongfully prevented by police from attending assembly session.

HELD : Legal right of MLA to attend session violated- thus damages given (more money – exemplary damages given.

Above principle applied.

(2) Damnum sine injuria

Meaning - damages , monetary loss, caused to the plaintiff without violation of legal right.

THINK 1 WHETHER ACTION CAN BE TAKEN FOR MONEY LOSS OCCURRED TO THE PLAINTIFF WITHOUT VIOLATION IN LEGAL RIGHT ?

Not actionable because no injury to legal right. Thus violation of legal right is necessary for tort.

Mayor of Bradford v/s Pickles 1895

Facts - Corporation of Bradford was supplying water from its well. Defendant was having adjacent land to the corporation land wherein there was well. Defendant was willing to sell his land. He approached the mayor of corporation. Negotiations failed.

Defendant dug well in his own land .thereby cutting the underground supply of water of corporation well this has caused a loss to corporation because there was no adequate supply of water to the people of corporation. Plaintiff sued Defendant for damages for malice.

Held - Defendant is not liable, because defendant's act is not wrongful as not violated legal right or plaintiff. There is factual malice, ill will digging well in his own land does not amount to tort.

POINTS TO REMEMBER :

  • Tort= Civil Wrong

  • Tort law is uncodified

  • DEFINITION : Salmond : tort is civil wrong

  • Winfield and Jolowics :Tort is breach of duty primarily fixed by law

  • Frederick Pollock : Tort is act or omission that causes harm.

  • Remedy in tort is compensation/ damages

  • When legal right is violated tort is committed

  • School of thoughts : (1) Law of tort – recognizes general torts. (2) Law of torts- recognizes specific torts alone.

  • Two important principles : (1) Injuria sine damno – injury without monetary loss : it is actionable (2) Damnum sine injuria – Monetary loss without violation of legal right.

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