Act of God



According to Sir Fredrick Pollack – “An Act of God is an operation of natural forces so unexpected to anticipate it”.


According to Salmond – “An act of God includes those acts which a man cannot avoid by taking reasonable care. Such accidents are the result of natural forces and are incoherent with the agency of man”.


‘Vis Major’ is a Latin term which means superior force. It literary means an act of nature without any human intervention. Which cannot be forced scene by any amount of human ability and skill. If scene cannot be prevented by any means, care and skill.
An act of God is a defence used in cases of torts when an event over which the defendant has no control over occurs and the damage is caused by the forces of nature. In such cases the defendant will not be liable in a court of law.
An act of God is an inevitable accident which results in the loss of the mankind. Examples of an of God are :- heavy rainfall, storms, tsunamis, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions. Etc.
In today’s Era, the technology has become so vast that it can be already known whether the tsunamis or earthquakes are going to happen. So the applicability to prove this defence in today’s era has been reduced.
Important essential that are needed for this defence:-
There must be working of extraordinary natural forces.
The occurrence must be extra ordinary and not one which could be anticipated and reasonably guarded against.
Natural force should not be predictable and
It should be beyond the power of human mankind.

Case laws:-
Ramalinga Nadar Vs. Narayana Reddiar

The plaintiff had booked goods with the defendant for transportation. The goods which was send for transportation was being looted by a mob and the defendant could not prevented as it was beyond his control. The Honorable Court held that every event which is beyond the control of a man cannot be considered as an act of God. An act done by a mob who is a human being cannot be considered as an act of God.

Nicolas Vs. Marshland.
In this case the defendant had artificial lakes on his land due to the occurrence of heavy rainfall the banks of the lakes burst out and breaks four of the plaintiffs bridges. It caused heavy damage to the plaintiff. The court held that the defendant is not liable as it was an act of God.

Shri ram Vs. Mitaben
In this case, a school building collapsed on account of the massive earthquake that took place in Gujarat, where the school was located. The court held the defendant liable and find it proper to assess the compensation, keeping in mind the talent, potentiality and bright future of the deceased children who have lost their lives. The parents of the unfortunate children have lost their children on account of the careless and negligent manner in which the School building has been constructed by the appellants, without taking proper care and caution and by committing breach of statutory requirements for construction and use of the said School building.

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