Thomas v National Union of Mineworkers  Ch 20
The National Union of Mineworkers organised a strike action. The plaintiff, a mineworker, decided to continue working. To ensure the safety of the plaintiff and other miners who decided to work, the plaintiff was driven through the pickets on a daily basis in a bus. During the drive-throughs, the striking miners made violent gestures at the plaintiff and other working miners, but never got too close to carry out any attack due to the protection provided by the bus and a policeman. The plaintiff brought an action against the defendant for assault.
1. Whether or not the threats and actions of the defendant constituted an assault.
1. The actions and threats of the defendant did not constitute an assault.
The court held that for there to be an assault in tort, there should be the capacity or possibility of using physical violence against the claimant. In the present case, the fact that the claimant was protected by the bus and the policeman meant that no physical violence could be used against the plaintiff.