Essential Elements of Law of Torts: The term ‘tort’ traces its roots back to the French language, where it signifies a civil wrong. It stems from the medieval Latin word ‘tortum,’ meaning a ‘wrong’ or ‘injury.’ In simple terms, a tort occurs when someone fails in their duty to another person. The person responsible for the wrongdoing is often referred to as a ‘tortfeasor’ or a ‘wrongdoer.’
In cases involving multiple individuals, they are known as joint tortfeasors. The wrongful act itself is termed a ‘tortious act,’ and legal action can be taken against the wrongdoer, either jointly or individually. The Law of Torts primarily focuses on seeking compensation for the damages caused to one person by the actions of another.
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Objectives of Torts
There are various objectives of torts penned down by various thinkers, however, it was managed to mention a few of them in this article. They are as follows:
- To regulate the rights between the parties to a dispute.
- To refrain from continuation or repetition of harm I.e., by giving injunction orders
- To protect certain rights of every individual who are recognized by the law I.e., a person’s reputation.
- To restore one’s property to its rightful owner i.e. where the property is wrongfully taken away from its rightful owner.
Essential Elements of Torts
There are four essential elements of torts. They are:
- A wrongful act or omission.
- Duty imposed by the law.
- The act must give rise to legal or actual damage
- Should be of such a nature that it will bring about a legal remedy in the form of action or damages.
- There isn’t a set rule that a wrongful act has to be intentional or unintentional. It can be morally wrong, legally wrong, or sometimes both.
- If an action affects someone’s legal rights and breaks a law, it’s considered a legal wrongful act. Sometimes, even seemingly innocent actions can violate someone’s rights.
Duty Imposed by Law
- Everyone has a legal duty to take reasonable care not to harm others. This duty is legally enforceable in Indian Courts.
- It’s important to note that ‘damage’ and ‘damages’ mean different things legally. ‘Damage’ refers to harmful effects, while ‘damages’ refer to compensation for those harms.
- Two Legal Maxims:
a). Injuria Sine Damno: – Injury without Damage. – This happens in tort law when someone’s legal rights are violated without actual loss. For instance, being denied the right to vote without any tangible harm.
b). Damno Sine Injuria: – Damage without Injury. – This occurs when there’s actual loss (physical or moral) but no violation of legal rights. In this case, the person may experience harm, but there’s no legal wrongdoing.
- In the Case of Ashby v. White:
- Mr. Ashby couldn’t vote because Mr. White, the constable, prevented him. This showcased Injuria Sine Damno, where a legal right was violated without tangible harm.
- In the Case of Bhim Singh v. State of Jammu and Kashmir:
- A Member of Parliament was denied entry into an election premises by a police constable, infringing on his legal rights.
These legal principles essentially highlight the balance between legal rights, actual harm, and the need for remedies in case of violations.
Difference between Injuria Sine Damno and Damnum Sine Injuria
|Injuria Sine Damno
|Damnum Sine Injuria
|Nature of Wrong
|Legal injury without physical damage.
|Damage may be physical, but no infringement of legal rights.
|Compensation in the form of damages is awarded by the court.
|No compensation in the form of damages is awarded by the court.
|This maxim is for legal wrongs that can be prosecuted if a person’s legal rights are infringed.
|This maxim is for moral wrongs having no action in the eyes of the law.
|Plaintiff suffers from legal injury.
|Plaintiff may suffer from physical injury but not legal injury.
Distinction between Crime and Tort
- Let’s break it down in simple terms. A tort is like a personal wrongdoing that harms someone’s individual rights, while a crime is a wrongdoing against society as a whole. When someone commits a tort, they might have to pay for the damage they caused, but when it’s a crime, they could face punishment.
- Imagine it this way: If you harm someone’s personal rights, it’s like a civil issue, and you might end up compensating them. But if you break a law that affects everyone, the whole community or state might step in to enforce punishment.
- In a tort case, it’s like one person suing another, seeking damages. On the other hand, if it’s a crime, it’s more like filing a complaint against someone for breaking the law.
- Think of the law of torts as this flexible set of rules that isn’t written down in one big rulebook, while the law of crimes is more like a rulebook—it’s all written and structured.
- In torts, sometimes what you meant to do matters, but not always. However, in criminal law, your intention is a big deal—it’s a key part of whether you’re guilty or not.
Liquidated Damages and Unliquidated Damages
Even if they seem a bit similar, both of them make sure the person filing the lawsuit gets the compensation they deserve. On one side, liquidated damages mean you get a set amount of money as compensation. On the flip side, unliquidated damages don’t have a fixed amount – it depends on how bad the wrongdoing was. They can be adjusted based on the seriousness of the offense.
Read Also: Negligence Under the Law of Torts