Malice

When an act is done with bad intention, it is called malice. Malice is usually classified into two divisions, namely, ‘malice in fact’ and ‘malice in law’.

In criminal law, it indicates the intention, without justification or excuse, to commit an act that is unlawful type.

Express or actual malice, or malice in fact means an act done with ill-will towards an individual. Malice therefore in ordinary or popular sense means ill-will, hatred, enmity against a person. But implied malice means a wrongful act done intentionally without any just cause or excuse. So wherever there is violation of a legal right, law presumes a wrong or legal injury or implied malice.

Thus, the terms legal malice and implied malice are identical in meaning.

 

In the case of Town Area Committee vs Prabhu Dayal, it has been held that if the act was done is legal, then the motive is considered to be immaterial for the facts of the case.

Some other cases related to malice in fact are as follows:-

Bradford Corporation vs Pickle

Pickles owned land at a higher level than Bradford Corporation. The defendant had a natural reservoir from which water flowed to the Bradford Corporation’s land. The claimant used this to supply water to local towns. Pickles sought to sink a well into this natural reservoir. This would reduce the flow of water to Bradford Corporation’s land. Therefore, Bradford Corporation filed a suit of nuisance against the defendant for an injunction. It was argued that this was a malicious intent and effort to deprive their land of water. They also alleged that the defendant was doing this to compel them to purchase their land.

The court held that though the defendant’s acts did deprive them of water, the claimant had no right in the water until it entered onto their land. The fact that the defendant possibly acted with bad intention had no bearing on the case. Therefore, the only concern for the Court is whether the claimant had the legal right to do what they did. In this case, the defendant did have the right to sink the well as this was done on his land, and there was no reason why the defendant could not do this in an attempt to get the claimant to purchase the land.

Vishnu Basudeo v. T.H.S Pearse

In the case of Vishnu Basudeo v. T.H.S Pearse[8], the court declared that the legality of the act has to be taken into consideration. If the act is lawful, the motive behind commission of the act has the least significance

Malice in law or legal malice is a term which is practically superfluous as in law every tortious act is impliedly malicious on account of its being a legally wrongful act.

The word malice in law signifies either,

The intentional doing of a wrongful act without just cause or excuse

An action determined by an improper motive.

Case Law

The term “malice in law” has been very well described in the case of Shearer Vs Shields:-

“A person inflicting injuries upon other person in contravention with the law cannot take the defence that he did so with an innocent mind.”

Another case law on malice in law is Melia v. Neate

Definition of Malice with the help of Case law

Malice in its legal sense is defined by Bayle J. in Bromage v. Prosser, in the following words.

“Malice in common acceptance means ill-will against a person, but in its legal sense it means a wrongful act done intentionally without just cause or cause”.

Aishwarya Says:

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