Law of Torts

Meaning and definition of torts.

Law generally denotes any rule of human conduct enforced by the State. In its wider sense it includes all religious, social, political and moral rules of conduct. But all these are not strict rules of law. Only those rules of conduct of persons which are protected and enforced by the State constitute the law of the land. Law may be defined as the body of rules recognized and applied by the State in the administration of justice. According to Salmond, the law consists of rules recognised and acted on by Courts of justice.

The entire body of law in a State may be generally divided into two viz. Civil and Criminal. The law of tort is a branch of Civil law. Tort is to be distinguished from other branches of civil law. For example, in contract the duties undertaken by the parties are fixed by agreement enforceable by law. Duties in torts are towards people generally. And while in crime, redress is by means of punishment by the State, in tort redress is by way of an award of compensation or damages.

The word tort is of French origin. It is derived from the Latin words tortus and tortum. The Roman equivalent of it is delict. It means twisted or crooked or wrong. Everyone is expected to behave in a straightforward manner and when a person deviates from this straight path into crooked ways, he has committed a tort. In English law the term tort has acquired a special meaning as a species of civil injury or wrong.

Several jurists have attempted to define the concept of tort. Some of the definitions are given below:-

Winfield:- “Tortious liability arises from the breach of a duty primarily fixed by the law. This duty is towards persons generally and its breach is redressible by an action for unliquidated damages”.

Salmond:- A tort is a civil wrong for which the remedy is a Common Law action for unliquidated damages, and which is not the breach of a contract, or the breach of a trust or other merely equitable obligations.

Fraser:- A tort is an infringement of a right in rem of a private individual giving a right of compensation at the suit of the injured party.

Lord Denning:- The province of tort is to allocate responsibility for injurious conduct.

Clerk and Lindsell:- A tort may be described as a wrong independent of contract for which the appropriate remedy is as common law action.

Fleming:- In very general terms a tort is a civil wrong other than a breach of contract, which the law will redress by an award of damages.

Another definition runs as follows:- “A tort is a civil wrong which infringes a right in rem and is remediable by an action for damages”.

The law of tort theory supported by Winfield was approved in Ashby v. White (1703) 2 Ld Raym 938 (953).

Salmond’s theory was approved in the case Allen v. Flood (1898) A.C.I. (H.L.)

From the various definitions, it could be seen that the following factors are necessary to constitute a tort.

(1) There must be some act or omission on the part of the person committing the tort, not being a breach of some duty undertaken by contract.

(2) The act or omission complained of must result in legal damage to another.

(3) The wrongful act or omission must in some way inflict injury to the plaintiff.

Reference – Law of Torts by Dr. R. K. Bangia.

Aishwarya Says:

I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.

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