Law of Torts
In simple words, Tort is a Civil Wrong. Law of Torts is one of the important branches of Law.
The word Tort is derived from a Latin word 'Tortus' which means 'twisted' or 'cooked act'. In English it means, 'wrong'. The Expression 'Tort' is of French Origin.
The term 'Tort' means a wrongful act committed by a person, causing injury or damage to another, thereby the injured institutes (files) an action in Civil Court for a remedy viz., unliquidated damages or injunction or restitution of property or other available relief. Unliquidated damages means the amount of damages to be fixed or determined by the Court.
- The person who commits or is guilty of a tort is called a "tortfeasor". (Gordon v. Lee, 133 Me. 361, 178 A. 353, 355)
- The person who suffered injury or damage by a tortfeasor is called injured or aggrieved.
- Tort is a common law term and its equivalent in Civil Law is "Delict".
- As a general rule, all persons have the capacity to sue and be sued in a tort.
Types of Wrongs
Wrong can be of two types - Public and Private. Tort is a Private Wrong, whereas Crime is a Public Wrong. Torts are tried in Civil Courts.
Main article: History of Torts
The 'Law of Torts' owes its origin to the Common Law of England. It is well developed in the UK, USA and other advanced Countries. In India, Law of Torts is non codified, like other branches of law eg: Indian Contract Act, 1872 and Indian Penal Code, 1860. It is still in the process of development.
A tort can take place either by commission of an act or by omission of an act.
Main article: Definition of Tort
According to Prof. Winfield, Tortious Liability arises from breach of a duty primarily fixed by law; this duty is towards persons generally and its breach is redressable by an action for unliquidated damages.
Sir John Salmond defined Tort as a civil wrong for which the remedy is common law action for unliquidated damages and which is not exclusively the breach of contract or the breach of trust or other merely equitable obligation.
Types of Torts
Broadly speaking, Torts are of three types:
- Intentional Torts
- Against the Person: Assault, Battery, Infliction of mental distress, False imprisonment
- Against the Property
- Strict Liability
- Tort, is a private wrong, which infringes the legal right of an individual or specific group of individuals.
- The person, who commits tort is called "tort-feasor" or "Wrong doer"
- The place of trial is Civil Court.
- Tort litigation is compoundable i.e. the plaintiff can withdraw the suit filed by him.
- Tort is a specie of civil wrong.
- Tort is other than a breach of contract
- The remedy in tort is unliquidated damages or other equitable relief to the injured.
Essential elements to prove a Tort
- Existence of legal duty from defendant to plaintiff
- Breach of duty
- Damage as proximate result.
- City of Mobile v. McClure, 221 Ala. 51, 127 So. 832, 835.
Types of Tort
- Maritime Tort
- Personal Tort
- Property Tort
- Quasi Tort
- Willful Tort
Differences between Tort and a Crime
|Tort is tried in Civil Courts||Crimes are tried in Criminal Courts|
|A person who commits Tort is a 'tortfeasor'||A person who commits Crime is a 'Criminal' or 'Offender'|
|The remedy of tort is unliquidated damages or other equitable relief to the injured||The remedy is to punish the offender|
|Tort litigation is compoundable||Criminal cases are not compoundable except in case of exceptions as per Section 320 Cr.PC of IPC|
Law of Torts in UK / English Tort Law
The English Tory System was based on a closed system of nominate torts and follows the Roman law. Examples for this include trespass, battery and conversion. Negligence is the most popular form of tort. For liability under negligence a duty of care must be established owed to a group of persons of which the victim is one, a nebulous concept into which many other categories are being pulled towards. But as Lord MacMillan said in the case, "the categories of negligence are never closed".
Related Cases / Recent Cases / Case Laws
- Code Ga. 1882, § 2951 (Civ.Code 1910, § 4403)
- Hayes v. Insurance Co., 125 Ill. 626, 18 N.E. 322, 1 L.R.A. 303
- Railway Co. v. Hennegan, 33 Tex. Civ.App. 314, 76 S.W. 453
- Churchill v. Howe, 186 Mich. 107, 152 N.W. 989, 991
- Strachan Shipping Co. v. Hazlip-Hood Cotton Co., 35 Ga.App. 94, 132 S.E. 454, 459
- Keiper v. Anderson, 138 Minn. 392, 165 N.W. 237, 239, I.4.R.A.1918C, 299. A
- Mitchell v. Health Culture Co., 349 Mo. 475, 162 S.W.2d 233, 237: A violation of a right in rem which plaintiff has as against all persons with whom he comes in contact or the violation of a right which is created by law and not by any act of parties.
- Henriques vs Dutch West Indian Company (1728) 2 Ld. Raym 1532; Newby vs Colts Patent Firearms Co., (1872) LR 7 QB 293; A Foreign Corporation (i.e. a Corporation established by the law of a foreign country) may sue and be sued for a tort, just like any other corporation
- Raja Pramada Nath Roy vs Shebait Purna Chandra Roy, (1908) 7 CLJ 514: The liability of estate of an idol for wrongs committed by its shebait (person in charge of idol) is analogous to the liability of a corporation.
- Tort vs Contract
- Exceptions to liability in Torts
- Remedies for Torts
- Concepts of Absolute Liability and Vicarious Liability
- Alien Tort Statute
- Defamation Act, 1952
- Motor Vehicles Act, 1988