Introduction to the Law of Torts for SLAT/CLAT
Introduction to the Law of Torts for SLAT
Tort is categorised as a Civil Law in which the wrongful acts committed by one person violates the legal rights of the another person. The origin of the word “tort” is from a Latin word ‘Tortum’ which means twisted or wrong or crooked. The jurisprudential essence of the Tort law is that every person has a duty to respect the legal rights of the others and anyone breaching this duty is said to have committed a tort. Any person who commits a tort is referred to as the tortfeasor. Some common examples of Tort are: Negligence, Malicious Prosecution, Defamation etc.
In cases where the same damage is caused to the person by more than one wrongdoers, they may be regarded as independent or joint Tortfeasors. The liability as a joint tortfeasor would arise when there is an act that is jointly done by all the tortfeasors, thus causing the alleged harm.
ESSENTIALS OF TORT
For an act to be held as Tort, it must fulfil certain conditions that are:
Act/ Omission: If the person has either done an act which is prohibited by law or omitted to do an act that he is legally bound to do, he can be held liable for Tort.
For instance: The law prohibits you from causing nuisance to your neighbours and if you do so, you are doing an act for which you can be made liable for Tort.
Also, if you don’t save a man who is drowning, you are not liable for anything although you have omitted an act of saving him but if there was a lifeguard who was legally bound to save anyone drowning in that swimming pool, he can be g=held liable.
Legal Damage: Never confuse the words ‘damage’ and ‘damages’. Damages refers to the compensation claimed by the injured party whereas damage refers to any kind of injury or loss.
For the two important legal maxims give below, Injury refers to the infringement of legal right and Damnum means substantial injury.
Injuria Sine Damno Injury without Damage
It covers only those torts which are actionable per se without any proof of damage (loss). In this case, the very act of injury i.e. Infringement of legal right of a person is actionable and any fact of damage i.e. if the plaintiff has suffered any loss, is irrelevant.
Damnum Sine Injuria Damage without injury
It refers to those cases where although the plaintiff has suffered a substantial loss but there is no proof of infringement of the legal rights of the plaintiff. Such acts are not considered to be Tort, however these acts are harmful.
Conclusion: Therefore, it can be said that a person is said to be liable of Tort if following two conditions are fulfilled simultaneously:
He has done an act prohibited by law or omitted to do an act he was bound to do legally.
Such person should have infringed the legal right of the plaintiff.
NATURE OF REMEDY IN TORT
The remedies that are generally given in the case of Tort are the unliquidated damages. By unliquidated damages, we mean that the quantum of compensation is not predetermined and it is believed that it is because of the reason that parties are usually stranger to each other. Other than the damages, injunction or specific restitution may also be opted as the Remedy under Tort.
IS IT LAW OF TORT OR LAW OF TORTS
As per Salmond, it is ’law of torts’ and any act would constitute s a tort only when it falls under the category of any recognised tort. He believes that no general principle of liability exists in case of Tort and if the plaintiff can place the wrong done to him or her, in any of the pigeon holes each representing a recognised tort, then only it will constitute a Tort. This is called as Pigeon Hole theory.
On the other hand, Winfield believe that it is ‘law of tort’ and not ‘Law of torts’ as there is a general principle of Liability. As per him, all injuries done to a person will be categorised as Tort unless there is some legal justification (Justification recognized by law) for it. This gave a wider perspective as compared to Salmond’s theory.