Injuria sine damno is a breach of a legal right that does not cause the plaintiff any pain, loss, or damage, and whenever a legal right is violated, the person who owns the right has the right to sue. Every person has an absolute right to his or her property, personal immunity, and liberty, and any infringement of this right is actionable in and of itself. A person who has had a legal right infringed on has a cause of action, and even deliberately infringing on a legal right gives rise to a cause of action. The legislation also allows a person who is threatened with infringement of a legal right to file a complaint under the terms of the Specific Relief Act under Declaration and Injunction, even though the injury has not yet occurred.
For instance, if a person is illegally detained against his will, he may be entitled to large damages for wrongful imprisonment, even if no consequential harm results from the confinement.
LEGAL MAXIM USED: Injuria Sine Damno
COURT: Court of King’s Bench
BENCH: Holt CJ, Powell J, Powy J, Gould J.
FACTS OF THE CASE: Mr. Ashby was denied the right to vote in an election due to a mistake made by the policeman, Mr. White, on the pretense that he was not a permanent resident. The matter drew a lot of public attention and debate in Parliament at the time. It was afterward dubbed the Aylesbury election case. Despite the Conservative party’s reliance on the House of Commons’ powers, it drew the attention of Peter King, 1st Baron King, who spoke and maintained the right of electors to have recourse to common law for the revocation of their ballots. At the House of Lords, Sir Thomas Powys defended William White. The argument was that only the House of Commons, not the courts, had the authority to decide election matters.
ISSUES BEFORE THE COURT: In this case, the question is whether one party can sue for damages if another person’s civil rights are violated.
DISCUSSION: When one party’s activities infringe on the rights of another, that party may be held accountable.
FINAL JUDGMENT: In December 1701, a cobbler named Matthew Ashby showed up to vote in the British Parliament. “He was not a settled inhabitant of the borough, and had never contributed either to the church or the sick,” William White, the constable, told Ashby. Despite this, his opponent won the race and escaped injury. But Ashby was not going down without a fight, and he filed a lawsuit for a substantial sum of money. The defendants maintained that Ashby was not culpable because his nominee won the race with no financial damage. His suit was successful, but Ashby was found guilty of a breach of parliamentary privilege for acting in accordance with common law by the House of Commons. The appeal was then upheld by Chief Justice Holt, who stated that the matter at hand was “the most transcendental and high-quality matter.” Finally, the defendant (White) was found to have violated Ashby’s civil rights and was entitled to damages for preventing Ashby from voting. “Any injury causes harm, even if it costs the party nothing,” Chief Justice Holt remarked. Damage is imported not only in the situation of monetary loss but also in the case of hurt when a person’s rights are impaired.
CONCLUSION: The returning officer, the defendant, unlawfully refused to register a properly tendered candidate for the vote of the appellant, a constitutionally eligible elector, in a general election, and the candidate for whom the vote was held was chosen, and there was no harm caused by the denial of the vote. If a person’s right to vote is taken away due to a statute that is unconstitutional due to a violation of the right to equality, an appeal for damages may be filed.
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