Introduction to Law Of Tort

Introduction to Law Of Tort

The word tort is derived from latin word tortium, meaning to twist. It implies a conduct that is twisted, crooked, or not straight. In legal sense tort is a civil wrong, other than breach of contract and it attracts penalty in form of compensation given to the injured party.


Law of tort is a branch of law that cannot be found as a statute in India. Although it has been developed by judicial processes and can be found as a source of law in form of precedents.

The maxim which functions as a cardinal principle of law of tort is "ubi jus ibi remedium". It means where there is a right there is a remedy.


Definitions Of TORT


“It is a civil wrong for which the remedy is a common law action for unliquidated damages and which is not exclusively the breach of a contract or the breach of a trust or other merely equitable obligation.”


“Tortious Liability arises from the breach of a duty primarily fixed by the law: this duty is towards persons generally and its breach is redressable by an action for unliquidated damages."


“It is an infringement of a right in rem of a private individual giving a right of compensation at the suit of the injured party.”



Tort is also defined Indian law under - Section 2(m) of the Limitation Act, 1963 “ Tort means a civil wrong which is not exclusively a breach of contract or breach of trust.”

It may be observed that:
1. Tort is a civil wrong
2. A tort is different from wrong which primarily arises from law of contract.
3. A person who suffered a legal injury under law of tort can claim unliquidated damages.


1. Fixation of duty Duty imposed on the person is fixed by law Duty imposed is fixed by the parties themselves by their free consent
2. Attribution of duty Duty is generally attributed towards public at large Duty is attributed towards a specific person/parties of contract
3. Right Right under law of tort is Right in rem Right under contract law is Right in personam
4. Privity No need of Privity Privity between parties to be proved
5. Damages Unliquidated Damages Liquidated Damages



1. Nature of Wrong Private Wrong/ Civil Wrong Public Wrong/Criminal Wrong
2. Nature of Remedy Damages Punishment & Fine
3. Parties Whose legal rights has been infringed Accused & State
4. Codification Not codified Codified
5. Intention Not necessary Always important



Tort is infringement of a right in rem i.e ( rights available against whole world)



1. Violation of legal right

2. Breach of legal duty


✔ A tort is infringement of a private right of person. for example right to personal safety, reputation, or possession. Simply it can be said that the injured is entitled to compensation for injury caused by wrong doer. The person who commits tort is called a “Tort Person” and the wrong or misdoing done by such person is "Tortious Act"

✔ The essentials of law of tort states that an alleged wrongdoer must have done something which such person was not supposed to do or has omitted to do an act which he was obliged to do.

✔ As a result of his doing or omitting to do an act, there has been an injury causing legal damage to some other person.

Maxims for law of tort:

Injuria Sine Damnum Damnum sine Injuria
Injuria sine damnum means injury of legal rights without damage. It is a violation of a legal right without causing any harm, loss or damage to the plaintiff. When an act is committed, which infringes legal right vested in a person. Such person whose right has been infringed has a right to bring action against such infringement.
For Example:
If A walks around the garden at B's house without his knowledge. Here A is guilty of tortious act. Although, A has not caused any damage to B but he has infringed his legal right.

Ashby V. White (1703)

In this case the plaintiff was a qualified voter at the parliamentary elections. The defendant, a returning officer wrongfully refused to let the plaintiff cast his vote. Here the plaintiff did not suffer any damage as the candidate he wanted to vote for turned out victorious in the elections. But, the act of the returning officer of wrongfully refusing to let him exercise his legal right to case vote resulted in legal injury to the plaintiff. The defendants were held liable.
The court held the defendant liable it was concluded by the court, that the damage caused is not only pecuniary in nature but an injury caused to persons legal rights also amounts to damage. So the act of returning officer refusing the plaintiff to cast his vote hindered of his rights and he is entitled to remedies.

Marzetti V. Willaims

In this case a banker had dishonoured a cheque of the plaintiff despite the customer having sufficient funds in his account. The banker handling the account of that customer wrongfully dishonoured the cheque of plaintiff inspite of having enough funds to cash the cheque at his hands. Although the plaintiff did not suffer any damage but his legal right was infringed.
The court held that there was violation of legal right of the plaintiff and so the banker is liable.

Bhim Singh V. State of J&K (1986)

The petitioner, Bhim Singh, a member of the legislative assembly of Jammu and Kashmir, filed a petition in the Supreme Court of India alleging that he had been wrongfully arrested and detained by the police for political reasons.
The court held that the arrest and detention of the petitioner were in violation of his fundamental rights under the Constitution of India. The court further held that the state government was liable to pay compensation to the petitioner for the harm suffered by him as a result of the wrongful arrest and detention.




Damnum Sine Injuria is a legal maxim meaning that a person has suffered damages but there has been no violation of legal rights vested in him. Since there has been no infringement of legal rights so no cause of action arises in favour of such a person. The damages suffered by a person without any legal injury will not give rise to any action in his favour thus, such person cannot claim damages by way of legal remedy if his case falls within the ambit of damnum sine injuria.
For Example:
A, sells milk in his area, B living two lanes away starts the same business and sells the milk at a lower price than A use to sell milk for. A suffers loss in his business and sues B for damages. Here, no cause of action lies in favour of A though, A has suffered loss in his business but no legal injury has been caused to A. So, A cannot claim damages as his case lies within the ambit of damnum sine injuria.

Mayor & Co. of Bradford V. Pickles (1895)

In this the corporation of Bradford filed a suit against the defendant alleging that the corporation has suffered financial losses because of the act of plaintiff. The plaintiff had dug a well in the adjoining land of which the defendant is owner. The act of digging well on his land had cut the water supply for the well on the corporation's land. This resulted in monetary losses for the plaintiff since there was no adequate supply of water to discharge for the people living under the jurisdiction of the corporation.
It was held that the defendant is not liable since they had not violated any legal right of the plaintiff.

Glucoster Grammer School (1410)

In this case a school master, has established a rival school to that of the plaintiff. Because of the increased competition in his field of business the plaintiff had to reduce their fees from 40 pence to 12 pence per quarter. Thus, plaintiff sued defendant schoolmaster for damages and claimed for compensation from the defendants for the losses suffered because of the reduced fees.
It was held that the plaintiff has no legal remedy in this case because all though the plaintiff had suffered financial losses because of the reduced fees due to the act of the defendant. The act of the defendant can be seen as a moral wrong but it has not violated legal right of the plaintiff. So, the plaintiff cannot claim any remedy for the damages.

Mogul Steamship Co Ltd V. McGregor, Gow & Co (1889)

The plaintiffs were independent shipowners who sent their ships to the cargo port to obtain cargo. An association (the defendants), also in the business of owning cargo ships, sent more ships down to the port and reduced their freights so low that the plaintiffs were unable to make a profit. They further threatened to dismiss any agents who loaded the plaintiff‟s ships. The plaintiff brought action alleging a conspiracy to injury and requested damages.
The House of Lords held that the plaintiff had no cause of action as the defendants had by lawful means acted to protect and extend their trade and increase their profits.