Some defences under Law Of Tort

General defences are a set of ‘excuses’ that you can undertake to escape liability. In order to escape liability in the case where the plaintiff brings an action against the defendant for a particular tort providing the existence of all the essentials of that tort, the defendant would be liable for the same. It mentions all the defences which can be pleaded in cases depending upon the circumstances and facts.  When a plaintiff brings an action against the defendant for a tort committed by him, he will be held liable for it, if there exists all the essential ingredients which are required for that wrong. But there are some defences available to him using which he can absolve himself from the liability arising out of the wrong committed. These are known as ‘General defences’ in the law of tort. 

Whenever a case is brought against the defendant for the commission of a tort and all the essential elements of that wrong are present, the defendant would be held liable for the same. Even in such cases, the defendant can avoid his liability by taking the plea of the defenses available under the law of torts. Some defences are particularly relating to some offences. In the case of defamation, the defences available are fair comment, privileges and justification, etc.

Volenti non fit injuria

In case, a plaintiff voluntarily suffers some harm, he has no remedy for that under the law of tort and he is not allowed to complain about the same. The reason behind this defence is that no one can enforce a right that he has voluntarily abandoned or waived. Consent to suffer harm can be express or implied. 

Some examples of the defence are:

  • When you yourself call somebody to your house you cannot sue your guests for trespass; 
  • If you have agreed to a surgical operation then you cannot sue the surgeon for it

For the defence to be available the act should not go beyond the limit of what has been consented

Act of God

Act of God serves as a good defence under the law of torts. It is also recognized as a valid defence in the rule of Strict Liability

The defence of Act of God and Inevitable accident however, might look the same but they are different. Act of God is a kind of inevitable accident in which the natural forces play their role and causes damage. For example, heavy rainfall, storms, tides, etc. 

Essentials required for this defence are:

  • Natural forces’ working should be there.
  • There must be an extraordinary occurrence and not the one which could be anticipated and guarded against reasonably.

Some extraordinary occurrence of natural forces is required to plead the defence under the law of torts.


A mistake is of two types:

  • Mistake of law
  • Mistake of fact

In both the conditions, no defence is available to the defendant. When a defendant acts under a mistaken belief in some situations, then he may use the defence of mistake to avoid his liability under the law of torts. 


If an act is done to prevent the greater harm, even though the act had been done intentionally, is not actionable and serves as a good defence. It should be distinguished clearly with private defence and an inevitable accident.

The following points should be considered:

  • In necessity, the infliction of harm is upon an innocent, whereas in the case of private defence the plaintiff is himself the wrongdoer.
  • In necessity, the harm is done intentionally, whereas in the case of an inevitable accident the harm is caused in-spite of making all the efforts to avoid it. 

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