Act of God

An act of God is a defense used in cases of torts on an event which the defendant has no control over occurs and the damage is caused by the event is due to the forces of nature. According to Salmond, an act of God includes those acts which a man cannot avoid by taking reasonable care of. Such accidents are the result of natural forces and are incoherent with the agency of man. In such cases, the defendant will not be liable to pay any damages in the law of tort for such inadvertent incidents.

Act of God is an act which is due to natural causes directly and exclusively without any human intervention, and that could not have been prevented by any foresight and care reasonably to have been expected from the defendant. SO, in order to prove the act of god, there are certain elements that could be presented in the act such as.

Elements of Act Of God
Natural Causes:
An act of God should be an extraordinary, unnatural, and unforeseen manifestation of the forces of nature, or accident arising from inevitable necessity which cannot be prevented by reasonable human foresight and care unlike the effect of ordinary causes may be foreseen and avoided by the exercise of human care.
Not Reasonably Foreseeable
The prime element of an act of God is the happening of an unforeseeable order For this had to be proven that the harm or loss was caused by a foreseeable accident that could have been prevented, then the party suffering from the injury has the right to ask for compensation. However, if the damage is caused by an unforeseen and uncontrollable natural event then the party is not compensable as it could not have been prevented or avoided by foresight or prudence of man.

In the case of Nichols v. Marshland, the defendant has a number of artificial lakes on his land than an Extraordinary rain which had never been witnessed in living memory caused the banks of the lakes to burst and the escaping water destroyed four bridges belonging to the plaintiff. The court held that the plaintiff’s bridges were swept by an act of God and the defendant was not liable to give any compensation.

In the case of Blyth v. Birmingham Water Works Co, the defendants had constructed water pipes that were believed to be reasonably strong enough to withstand severe frost. Then there was an unexpected severe frost that year that causes the pipes to burst which results in severe damage to the plaintiff’s property. The court held that though frost is a natural phenomenon, the occurrence of an unforeseen severe frost can be attributed to an act of God, thus the court didn’t hold the defendant liable.

In the case of Ramalinga Nadar v. Narayana Reddiar, the plaintiff had booked goods with the defendant for transportation but the goods were looted by a mob for which the prevention was beyond the control of the defendant. The court held that the event is beyond the control of the defendant and cannot be held as an Act of God. Thus, it was held that the destructive acts of an unruly mob cannot be considered an Act of God.

According to Lord Mansfield, the act of God is defined as it is something in opposition to the act of man. Although the defense of act of god insulates the defendant from liability for personal injury or property damages caused by a natural cause it is rarely used as the natural disaster happens once in a lifetime of a person.

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