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TORT AS CONSPIRACY | UPSC LAW OPTIONAL MAINS 2019 / 2020 - Concepts made easy


  • What is conspiracy ? A secret plan by a group to do something unlawful or harmful

  • When does conspiracy occur ? In law, a “conspiracy” occurs when two or more people agree to do something illegal, or to do something legal but to do it in an illegal way.

  • What are the types of Conspiracy ? There are two types of conspiracy

Criminal Conspiracy – dealt by Indian Penal Code refer IPC modules

Civil Conspiracy – it is a tort dealt in this module.


  • What is the definition of conspiracy as tort ? "A conspiracy consists not merely in the intention of two or more, but in the agreement of two or more to do an unlawful act, or to do a lawful act by unlawful means Mulcahy v The Queen

  • What is the specialty of the tort of conspiracy? It renders each participant in the wrongful act responsible as a joint tortfeasor irrespective of their role # Mox Incorporated v. Woods

  • Why conspirators are joint tortfeasors ? By participation in a civil conspiracy, a co-conspirator effectively adopts as his or her own the torts of other co-conspirators within the ambit of the conspiracy. In this way, a co-conspirator incurs tort liability co-equal with the immediate tortfeasors.

  • Conclusion : Conspiracy is not a cause of action, but a legal doctrine that imposes liability on persons who share a common plan.





Definition: Winfield : When two or more persons combine for the purpose of inflicting upon another person an injury which is unlawful in object/means resulting in damage.

Elements​ of conspiracy :

  • Two or more people who;

  • Make an agreement to act together;

  • With the intention to accomplish an unlawful goal with the purpose of harming another/ achieve lawful goal in unlawful means.

  • That results in damages

Forms of criminal conspiracy:

  1. Unlawful means: unlawful conduct directed at the plaintiff which will foreseeably result in damages to the plaintiff or

  2. Unlawful object: where the purpose of the conduct is to injure the plaintiff, regardless of whether the means are lawful or unlawful.


  1. There must be two or more participators - There must be atleast two minds so that are arise an agreement and common design of action. Role of participators immaterial all share equal liability.

  2. There must be an agreement / concurrence to do unlawful act/lawful act in unlawful means #There must be an agreement between two or more persons to injure another.

Agreement= no actual /formal agreement- a tacit agreement or understanding will be sufficient. # CBS Songs Ltd. v. Amstrad.

Characteristic of such agreement:

  1. The participator must have knowledge of unlawful Act# Schick v. Bach,

  2. They must have intention to aid such act agreed upon.

  3. They must agree to cause injury

There must be agreement – objective+ course of action+ injury.

Mogul Steam Ship Co Ltd vs McGregor, Gow and Co- The act of monopolising trade is not conspiracy even if it cause loss to plaintiff because monopoly is trade tactics not unlawful act.

  1. There must be an overt act in consonance of the agreement -it is necessary there is any overt act in pursuance of such agreement.#Glidewell LJ in Unilever plc v. Chefaro

  2. Such overt act must have resulted in damage to plaintiff.

Damage = pecuniary loss / not emotional damage.

Case Law : Yokong Line Ltd. Of Korea Vs Rendsburg Investments Corpn.of Liberia: Director of the plaintiff company directed the funds to some other account without intention to harm plaintiff- held- not conspiracy


  • Nature: It is a civil wrong/tort

  • It is offence against individual

  • Concept: Concerted act of two or more persons to act unlawfully/ achieve unlawful object thereby intending to cause damage to plaintiff

  • Mere agreement to conspire is not an offence.

  • An overt act is necessary to find guilty


  • It is a crime

  • It is offence against state

  • Concerted design to commit an illegal act.

  • Agreement /attempt /preparation perse an offence.

  • An overt act not necessary /mere preparation will do

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