Highlights on Introduction to the Law of Torts

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What is a Tort

According to Birks, a tort is a "breach of a legal duty which affects the interests of an individual to a degree which the law regards as sufficient to allow that individual to complain on his or her account rather than as a representative of society as a whole"



The term for a person who commits a tort.


Differences between Tort and Breach of Contract

1. Existing contractual relations before there can be a breach. No relation ought to exist between the tortfeasor and the injured party.

2. Rights and duties in contracts are created by contracting parties unlike in torts.

3. Damages after a breach can be liquated on unliquidated, unlike in torts where it is unliquidated.


Torts vs Crimes

1. A crime is committed against the whole of society, whilst a tort is committed against an individual.

2. The law of torts is judge-made unlike a crime which is created by the legislature.

3. Punishment for a crime includes a fine, imprisonment, or death. Payment of monetary compensation is usually the outcome of a successful tort action.


Aims of the Law of Tort

Appeasement, compensation, deterrence, justice. Compensation is usually the main aim.


Damnum Sine injuria (‘Damage without injury')

When a party suffers injury from the acts of another, yet there was no violation of any legal right of the injured party, then the injured party cannot bring an action against the other party.


Bradford Corporation v Pickles

Authority for Damnum Sine Injuria: The defendant sank a shaft in his land which prevented water flowing into the reservoirs of the plaintiff. A tort action by plaintiff failed because the defendant had a right to use his land as he pleased.


Injuria sine Damnum (‘Injury without damage’)

This operates where there is a violation of a legal right without damage. The rule is that any violation of a legal right, even in the absence of damage, can give rise to an action in tort


Actionable per se

When a case is actionable per se, it means no damage ought to occur before a tort can be deemed committed.


Role of Intention in Tort

Separates torts into intentional and unintentional torts.