When a particular tort is committed by a person by following all the essentials of tort then the aggrieved party can sue him in the court and the defendant will be liable for the tort which he had committed. But in order to escape from the liability, the defendant can take support of general defences and the defenses are:
- Volenti non fit injuria
- Plaintiff, the wrongdoer
- Inevitable accident
- Act of God
- Private Defence
- Statutory Authority
Now let’s talk about these defences in brief:
- Volenti non fit injuria
This defence says that if a person agrees and gives consent to some condition where he knows that he can get hurt or can get injured then he has no remedy for that in tort which means that he or she cannot complain for that. Consent can be expressed or implied and the consent must be free and not obtained by fraud, under compulsion, and etc. Example of this defence can be that if you invite someone to your home then you can’t sue him for trespass or if you have given your consent for the operation to the doctor and later you can’t sue the doctor for it.
Padmavati v. Dugganaika and Hall v. Brooklands Auto Racing Club are two famous cases under this defence.
- Plaintiff the wrongdoer
Under this defence if the plaintiff itself was illegal or wrong then the court excuses the defendant. There is one famous maxim “Ex turpi causa non oritur actio” which says that from an immoral cause no action arises. It means that if the basis of the action of the plaintiff is an unlawful contract, he will not, in general, succeed in his action.
According to Sir Fedrick Pollock when the plaintiff himself is a wrongdoer, he is not disabled from recovering in tort “unless some unlawful act or conduct on his own part is connected with the harm suffered by him as part of the same transaction”.
- Inevitable Accident
Inevitable accident means an unexpected injury which could not have been foreseen and avoided apart from taking necessary precautions on the part of the defendant. It is a good defence if the defendant can show that he neither wanted to injure the plaintiff nor he could stop the injury even after taking due precautions.
Holmes v. Mather, Brown v. Kendall and Stanley v. Powell are some of the famous case laws which comes under this defence.
- Act of God
Act of god is a kind of inevitable accident but the difference in the case of the act of god is that the loss that arises to the plaintiff is due to the natural forces which could not have been avoided or foreseen by taking due precautions. Exceptionally heavy rainfall, storms, tempests, tides and volcanic eruptions are examples of natural forces.
To use this defense two important essentials are needed:
- There should be a working of natural forces.
- The occurrence must be extraordinary and which could not be handled and anticipated.
Ramalinga Nadar v. Narayan Reddiar and Nichlos v. Marsland are the famous case laws under this defence.
5. Private Defense
Law gives us the power to protect ourselves with the help of reasonable force required.
If the defendant uses the force for his self defence then he will not be liable for the harm or injury caused thereby. Private defence can be used for the protection of life as well as property and this defence is to be used when there is imminent threat to life or property and the force must be necessary to use at that point of time.
Bird v. Halbrook and Collins v. Renison are two famous cases under this defence.
Mistake are of two types:
- Mistake of law- It is not at all a defence as it is presumed that everyone knows what law is and understands it.
- Mistake of fact-It can help the defendant to escape or reduce the liability. A mistake of fact as a defence applies to various crimes.
If an act is done in necessity which has caused damage to prevent a greater harm is not actionable even if the harm was caused intentionally. Pulling down the house to stop spreading of fire and throwing goods overboard a ship to lighten it for saving the ship are some examples of it.
8. Statutory authority
When an act is done, under the authority of an act, it is complete defence and the injured party has no remedy except for claiming such compensation as many have been provided by the statute. The statute may give absolute or conditional authority for the doing of an act.
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