If a man is compelled to do an act out of sheer necessity, he will not be liable for the injurious consequences of it to another even if the said act has caused considerable damage to the latter. There is a well known saying that necessity knows no law.
For example, if a boat fully loaded with rice bags, is caught in a storm in a wide lake far away from shore, it is justifiable to throw the heavy rice bags into the depths of the waters of the lake to lighten the load of the boat to save it and the men in it.
If a house is on fire, we are justified to enter the house and to remove the goods to save them or pull down the house to prevent the spreading of fire to other houses.
In Cope v. Sharpe (1912) 1 K.B. 496, the act of burning neighbour’s heather (useless shrubs) was held justifiable in order to prevent the spreading of fire to the sitting pheasants.
To avail the defence of necessity the measures taken to prevent the threatened evil should be reasonable.
In Kirk v. Gregory (1876) 1. Ex. D, 55, ‘X’ died in a state of delirium tremens. His servants were feasting and drinking in another part the house. ‘X’s sister-in-law removed ‘X’s jewellery from the room where, he lay dead to another room with a view to save it from possible theft. Unfortunately some unknown person stole it. The executors of the deceased person brought an action for the recovery of the price of jewels from ‘X’s sister-in-law and she was held liable. Hem plea of necessity was rejected by the Court saying that he interference with jewels was unreasonable in the circumstances.
In Greengson v. Gilbert (1783) 3 Doug. 232, 50 Negro slaves were thrown overboard owing to shortage of water. The defence of necessity was not accepted as the Captain’ act could not be substantiated by sufficient evidence.
In Carter v. Thomas (1891) Q.B. 673, the defendant entered the plaintiffs premises in good faith to extinguish fire. But the firemen were already working in the premises So the entry of the defendant in the premises was found t be unjustifiable and the defence of necessity was not accepted by the Court. He was held liable for trespass.
Reference – Law of Torts by Dr. R. K. Bangia.
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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