Trespass to land and Trespass to Goods

Trespass to land:

Trespass to land is an unwarrantable entry upon the land of another or any direct and immediate act of interference with the possession of land. To constitute the wr0ong of trespass neither force, nor unlawful detention, nor actual damage, nor the breaking of an enclosure is necessary. Every invasion of private property is it ever so minute, is a trespass.


The following are the essentials elements to the tort to trespass-

1. Entry is essential for a trespass: A man is not liable for a trespass committed involuntarily, but he is liable if the entry is intentional, even though made under a, mistake. For example, if moving his own land one inadvertently allows his blade to cut through into his neighbor’s field, he is guilty of a trespass.

2. If a person, who has lawfully entered on land of another, remains there, after his right of entry has ceased, he commits trespass.

3. Every interference with the land of another. For example, throwing stones or materials over neighbors’ lands, is deemed constructive entry and amounts to trespass.

A trespass may be committed-

1. By driving a nail into person’s wall – Lawrence vs. Obee, (1815) 2 Stark 22

2. By placing anything against his wall – Gregory vs. piper, (1829) 9 B.& C. 591

3. By shooting over his hand – Pickering vs. Rudd, (1815) 1 Stark56

Trespass ab – intio:

 A person may legally enter upon another’s land either by consent or by authority of law. In the former case when a person enters upon another’s land by consent and abuses or goes beyond the permission given to him, he may be liable only as trespasser. But if a person enters the land of another under the authority of some law and then abuses his authority by doing some wrongful act there he will be treated trespasser ab – initio.


Limitation to the application of the doctrine of trespass ab initio:

1. The doctrine applies only where the entry is permitted under the authority of law. Where the entry is made with the consent of the owner or under some contract, this doctrine does not apply.

2. Again the doctrine will apply where the wrongful act is a misfeasance (improper doing of an act which a person might unlawfully do). Doctrine does not apply if there is only a case of non- feasance (not doing an act which a man ought to do).

3. The doctrine will not apply to cases where the original entry can be justified on an independent ground to which the abuse of authority has no reference.

Trespass to goods:

Trespass to goods is an unlawful disturbance of the possession of goods by seizure or removal or by a direct act causing damage to goods. For example, removing a tyre from the motor car, scratching the panel of a coach. The plaintiff must at the time of the trespass have the present possession of the goods, either actual or constructive, or a legal right to the immediate possession. As against a wrong – doer any possession is sufficient provided that it is complete and unequivocal.

A joint – owner can maintain an action of trespass against his co – owner if latter has done some act amounting to ouster.

The wrongful attachment by itself amounts to trespass to goods and is actionable. The gist of the action is the wrongful attachment and the plaintiff whose property is wrongfully attached before judgment is entitled to damages even though he has failed to prove special damages.

The justification or defences to an action of trespass are:

1. Rightful claim: The defendant may plead that goods belonged to him or that were not, at the time of the alleged trespass, the property of the plaintiff.

2. Self defence or Defence of property: If a person has actual possession of goods and another wrongfully attempts to take the same from him, hi is justified in using such force as in necessary for the purpose of defending his own possession.

3. Exercise to one’s absolute or relative right: Thus seizing goods of another under a lawful distress for rent or damage feasant, is lawful.

4. Obedience to legal or personal authority: For example due process law (criminal procedure code section 47)

5. Negligent or wrongful act of plaintiff himself: If a person places his horse or cart so as to obstruct the right of way, it may be removed even by applying force for that purpose.

6. Recaption of goods: It means retaking by a lawful owner of goods of which has been wrongfully deprived. The owner may justify an assault in order to repossess himself of them.


In trespass to land the interference is with possession of land, it is actionable per se for claiming damages wasn’t supported to prove that he has suffered some damage, it is the wrong against the possession rather than ownership and it is covered under section 110 of Indian Evidence Act.

For example: planting a tree on another’s land is a trespass.

The remedies are: re – entry, suit for damages, menses profit, distress damage feasant.

 In trespass to goods then there is reasonable interference with the goods which are in the plaintiff’s possession.

In dentine the defendant wrongfully detains the goods which belonged plaintiff and refused to give them back on his demand.

In conversion the defendant does some act which was willfully and unreasonable in the dealings of the goods which was inconsistent with the right of the plaintiff.

Aishwarya Says:

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