Classification of Torts

Introduction

A civil breach committed against someone resulting in legal action is known as a tort. In these cases, the injured party is eligible to sue for damages, or compensation, for what happened to them. This is often seen in personal injury cases, where the plaintiff in the claim sues the defendant for financial obligations related to their injuries, losses, and more.

Tort law determines whether a person should be held legally accountable for an injury against another, as well as what type of compensation the injured party is entitled to.

In tort lawsuits, the injured party referred to as the “plaintiff” in civil cases seeks compensation, through the representation of a personal injury attorney, from the “defendant” for damages incurred.

Trespass

A trespass is an unauthorized action with respect to a person or property. It includes trespass to person, body or property.

Trespass to Person

Trespass to person is a type of tort which is basically unreasonable interference with body of a person which can be committed either by causing actual harm or by just causing an apprehension of force. It is a direct and intentional interference with any person’s body or liberty. It can arise even when there is no physical harm occurs to the victim. Trespass is accountable per se.

In Letang v Cooper case, at the summer of 1957, Ms. Letang was sunbathing outside on an area that was ordinarily used as a parking space for vehicles. While she was sunbathing, Mr. Cooper callously reversed his Jaguar motor car over her legs, causing her injury. Ms. Letang did not immediately file a claim against Mr. Cooper’s negligence but rather chose to do so four years later, by 1961. However, she could not file a claim for negligence alone since it had a limitation period of three years and therefore she resorted to making a claim under trespass to the person as well. It was held that that since Mr. Cooper’s actions were negligent rather than intentional, the statute of limitations barring claims actions for damage caused by negligence applied but, in this instance, Ms. Letang could not recover her damages because her claim was late under negligence. Therefore, the appeal was allowed and an amount of £575 was made out to the Appellant (Mr. Cooper).

Trespass to person may be  categorized as-

1 Assault

2. Battery

3. False Imprisonment  

4. Mayhem

1.Assault: The act of putting another person in reasonable fear or apprehension of an immediate battery by means of an act amounting to an attempt or threat to commit a battery amounts to an actionable tort of assault.

When the defendant by his act creates an apprehension in the mind of the plaintiff that he is going to commit battery against the plaintiff, the wrong of assault is completed.

In R v. S. George the pointing of loaded gun to another is an assault. If the pistol is not loaded, then even it may be an assault, if pointed at such a distance that it may cause injury.

2. Battery – The Tort of Battery deals with the use of unlawful force against a person. To prove that a person has committed the tort of battery, the plaintiff has to show that; there has to be a use of force and the use of force was without any lawful jurisdiction and intentional. The force used does not have to be strong, even throwing pebble on a person or pushing a person can be called use of force. Also if the use of force is accidental, it will not constitute battery.

In Cole v. Turner held that least touching of another in anger is battery.

3. False Imprisonment – When a person is intentional restricts another person from exercising his freedom. When someone intentionally restricts another’s freedom he can be found liable for false imprisonment. A person commits false imprisonment when he commits an act of restraint on another person which confines that person in a bound area.

In Bhim Singh vs. State of Jammu and Kashmir the petitioner, MLA of J&K was to participate in the Assembly meeting. His opponents in order to prevent him from attending the Assembly session got him arrested wrongfully with the help of some executives and police. The Magistrate also granted remand to police without compliance of the mandatory requirement of production of the accused in the Magistrate’s Court before reminding him to police custody. He was released after the Assembly session got over. The Supreme Court held the State liable for wrongful arrest and detention of the petitioner and ordered a compensation of Rs. 50,000 to be paid to the petitioner.

4. Mayhem – It refers to the permanently disabling or disfiguring the person. It is a tort that causes severe injury to the victim that he is unable to defend oneself from the tortfeasor. Mayhem causes severe injury to the victim in such a way he is unable to defend himself from the tortfeasor.

Trespass to Land

The Tort of Trespass to Land occurs when an individual interferes with another individual’s possession of land without having any lawful justification of the interference. The trespass can be committed with either the trespasser himself entering the land or causing interference using an object. The tort of trespass does not require actual damage to the land

A trespass to land involves going on or above the property of another without permission. A trespass can also involve the unpermitted use of the airspace of another’s property as well as actually going on the actual property. However, this rule has been modified to allow the flight of aircraft above the land as long as it does not interfere with the proper use of the land.

In Kelsen v. Imperial Tobacco Co. Ltd. held an advertising sign erected by the defendants over the plaintiff’s single storey shop projected into the airspace invasion.

Trespass to Property   

A trespass to personal property is the use of someone’s property without the person’s permission. A conversion occurs when personal property is taken by a defendant and kept from its true owner without permission of the owner.

Trespass to Goods- It takes place whenever there has been an actual taking of or direct and immediate damage to another person goods. It is direct physical interference of goods which are in the plaintiff’s person without any lawful justification.

Conversion or Trover –The tort of Conversion is another tort that deals with an individual’s rights over to his property. When a party violates the right to possession of property an individual, damaging, destroying or denying possession of the property, it is said to have committed the Tort of Conversion. The essential factors that constitute the occurrence of the Tort of conversion are; the plaintiff had the right to possession of the property at the time of conversion, the defendant’s act caused a denial of property and the conversion was unlawful, and that there was injury resulting from the conversion. Conversion is the civil side of the crime of theft. It also requires an intention to deprive the true owner of their ownership – so if you put a mobile in your pocket thinking it was yours it would not be conversion.

Nuisance

 Nuisance is a civil wrong, consisting of anything wrongfully done or permitted that interferes with or annoys others in the enjoyment of their legal rights. It is anything that annoys or disturbs the free use of one’s property or that renders its ordinary use or physical occupation uncomfortable. A nuisance is anything that interferes with the rights of citizens, the enjoyment of their property, or their comfort. It is to be noted that an unreasonable interference with another person’s use and enjoyment of his/her property is determined by the injury caused by the condition and is not determined by the conduct of the party creating the condition.

A nuisance is differentiated from a trespass to land. A trespass is an invasion of a person’s interest in the exclusive possession of their land, whereas a nuisance is an interference with the use and enjoyment of the land and does not require interference with the possession.

A person injured by a nuisance can recover damages in an action at law for tort. Similarly, damages can also be recovered for injury resulting from the legal use of a property, if such use substantially damages the property of another. Nuisances are divided into two subheads as- Public nuisance and Private nuisances

Public Nuisance– A public nuisance exists when an act or condition is subversive of public order or constitutes an obstruction of public rights. In other words, a public nuisance involves an unreasonable interference with a right common to the general public. In order to constitute a public nuisance, it is not necessary that it affects the whole community. It is a public nuisance if the injury or annoyance affects the people of a local neighborhood. Public nuisances always arise out of unlawful acts. Therefore, acts that are lawful or authorized by a valid statute, or which the public convenience demands, cannot be a public nuisance. A public nuisance can constitute either a crime or may be the subject of a civil action by public officials or private individuals.

At common law, the term “public nuisance” covers a variety of minor criminal offenses that interfere, for example, with the public health, safety, morals, peace, or convenience. Public nuisances include for example, a manufacturer who has polluted a stream and might be fined and be ordered to pay the cost of cleanup. Public safety nuisances include shooting fireworks in the streets or storing explosives etc.

Private Nuisance- A private nuisance is a civil wrong that affects a single individual or a definite number of persons in the enjoyment of some private right which is not common to the public. In other words, a private nuisance is a substantial and unreasonable interference with the private use and enjoyment of one’s land. Examples include interference with the physical condition of the land, disturbing the comfort of its occupants, or threatening injury or disturbance in the future. Nuisances that interfere with the physical condition of the land include vibration or blasting that damages a house; destruction of crops; raising of a water table; or the pollution of soil, a stream, or an underground water supply. Examples of nuisances interfering with the comfort, convenience, or health of an occupant are foul odors, noxious gases, smoke, dust, loud noises, excessive light, or high temperatures, e.g. a landowner burning plastic and old tyres so that the smell and smoke affect his neighbours.

In Ram Raj Singh v. Babulal, the defendant carried on a trade that involved crushing bricks through a brick crusher apparatus. The process resulted in the emission of a large quantity of dust in the surrounding areas. The plaintiff, a medical practitioner, lived adjacent to the defendant’s premises. He complained that the dust emitted as a result of the plaintiff’s trade was detrimental to his and his patient’s health. In this case, since a large number of people were involved, the plaintiff’s act constituted a public nuisance. However, the court issued an injunction order against the defendant and granted special damages to the plaintiff.

Defamation

Defamation is the communication of a false statement that harms the reputation of an individual. The law of defamation protects a person’s reputation and good name against communications that are false and derogatory. A man’s reputation is his property, more valuable than any other property.

In order to prove defamation, the plaintiff must prove:

● that a statement was made about the plaintiff’s reputation, honesty or integrity that is not true;

● there was publication to a third party (i.e., another person hears or reads the statement); and

● the plaintiff suffers damage as a result of the statement. Public figures have a more difficult time proving defamation.

In Noor Mohd. V. Mohd. Jiauddin groom and his father refused to take the bride after marriage with them before a number of guests. The act was considered to be defamatory and both were held liable.

Defamation consists of two torts: libel and slander.

Libel – Libel consists of publication of a false and defamatory statement in some permanent form tending to injure the reputation of another person without lawful justification or excuse. The statement must be in permanent form as writing, printing, pictures and effigies etc. It addressed to the eyes.

Slander– Slander is a form of defamation that consists of making false oral statements about a person which would damage that person’s reputation. It is false and defamatory verbal or oral statement in transitory forms intending to injure the reputation of another without lawful justification or excuse.

In Ramdhara v. Phulwatibai it has been held that the imputation by the defendant that the plaintiff, a widow of 45 year age, is a keep of the maternal uncle. The court held that this statement amounts to defamation.

References

1. Ratanlal & Dhirajlal The Law of Torts 28th Edition by Lexis Nexis Publication

2. R.K. Bangia Law of Torts, 26th Edition 2021 by Allahabad Law Agency

3. M.N. Shukla The Law of Torts 18th Edition Central Law Agency

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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