The law of tort is said to be a collection of circumstances in which treatment is given by a court as compensation for legal harm caused by one person to another. Consequently, it has been implied that there are three constituents of tort: –
- Wrong Act: – There must be a wrongful act committed by a person, i.e., the defendant.
- Legal Damage: – The wrongdoing should cause legal damage to a person, i.e., the plaintiff.
- Legal Remedy: – The wrongdoing must be of such a nature as to give rise to a legal remedy as an action for damages.
First Constituent of Tort: – Wrongful Act or Omission
Meaning of Wrongful Act: – A wrongful act or omission is that, he must have committed a breach of that duty which has been fixed by law itself. It can be summarised as that a wrongful act means any act, misstatement, or omission in violation of law, especially the civil law. It can be stated that a wrongful act means any act, misstatement or omission in violation of law, especially civil law. Wrongful acts include an act of illegal, immoral, anti-social, or defamatory action by an officer or director of a company resulting in a civil suit, error, misstatement, or breach of duty, resulting in a lawsuit against the company.
For example, if a person drives his motor cycle at an excessive speed in violation of law or fails to perform a duty as required by law, or beats a person in order to take revenge or keeps a lion on his land which escapes and injures a person on the road, he can be made liable for positive wrongful act or omission in negligence, battery or breach of strict duty, as the case may be.
There must be an omission or some act on the part of the defendant.
- An act or omission shall be wrong if the person sought to be held liable was under a legal duty.
- The relevant act or omission should be recognized by law. It should not be a moral or social mistake.
- It may be intentionally or negligently committed.
Example: – Trespassing or publishing a statement, defaming another person or accidentally detaining another person may be liable to trespass, defamation or false imprisonment.
Second Constituent of Tort: – Legal Damages (Injuria)
Meaning of Legal Damages: – “Damage” means the harm or loss suffered or presumed by someone else as a result of wrongful act/omission. ‘Injury’ means any damage or loss caused to any person as a result of any wrongful act of another person. In all cases of torts, the complainant is required to compulsorily prove that legal damage has occurred to him as a result of the defendant’s action/omission. Legal damage is only possible if the complainant’s legal right has been infringed. Under tort, no action/damage is possible if no legal right is infringed.
The difference between the words ‘Injury’ and ‘Damage’ is that, the former refers to the damage caused to someone, while the latter refers to the compensation awarded by the court, to the victim for the damage caused by him.
From the point of view of damage estimation, rights are classified into two categories: –
- Absolute: – When an absolute right is infringed, the law means damages with certainty, even if no pecuniary loss was caused to the wrongdoer. A breach of absolute right is counter-actionable, i.e., without proof of damages. The damage thus estimated is called legal damage.
- Qualified: – There is no presumption of damage in the case of qualified rights, and the violation of such rights can only be applied on the basis of the proof of damage.
The importance of legal damages is represented by two principles, namely, Injuria Sine Damnum and Damnum Sine Injuria: –
- Damnum Sine Injuria
- Sine Injuria Damnum
Damnum Sine Injuria
Meaning of Damnum Sine Injuria: – Damnum Sine Injuria is a legal maxim that refers to ‘Damage without Injury’ or damage that does not infringe any legal right vested with the plaintiff. Since no legal right has been infringed, no action is taken in cases of Damnum Sine Injuria. The general principle on which this maxim is based is that if one exercises his common or ordinary rights within a reasonable limit and without infringing upon the other’s legal right; such practice does not give rise to an action in favour of that other person. The loss can be in any form either in the form of any substantial loss or loss in respect of money, comfort, health etc.
It is an implicit principle in law that there is no remedy for any moral wrong, unless a legal right has been violated. The court shall not award any damages to the plaintiff, even if the act or omission committed by the defendant is wilful.
The court presumes in cases where the legal right has been infringed that damages have to be awarded, but in cases where no legal right has been infringed, the maxim Damnum sine Injuria applies & no remedies are available for the same. So, it can be rightly said that an act which is lawfully or legally done, without negligence, & in the exercise of a legal right, such damages as comes to another thereby is damage without injury.
Injuria Sine Damnum
Meaning of Injuria Sine Damnum: – Injuria sine damnum means “Injury without damage” or it means an infringement of an absolute private right without any actual loss or damage. It is a Latin term, where ‘Injuria’ refers to injury ‘Sine’ refers to without and ‘Damnum’ refers to a property or any physical loss, therefore the term refers to ‘injury suffered without actual loss’. Injuria Sine Damnum refers to the damage suffered by the plaintiff due to the violation of legal rights done by the other, even though there is no harm or loss or injury being suffered by the plaintiff. Hence in this, the plaintiff has to only prove that his/her legal rights have been violated, as it is actionable per se.
Everyone has an absolute right to his own property, to the defence of his person, and his liberty and the infringement of this right is itself actionable. The person against whom a legal right has been violated has a cause of action such that the breach of any legal right also causes wilful action. The law also provides liberty that if any person is in danger of breach of a legal right without the injury being completed, the person whose right has been threatened may sue under the provisions of the Specific Relief Act under declaration and injunction.
For example: – If a person is wrongfully detained against his will, he shall claim substantial damages for wrongful confinement, even if there is no physical damage on the detention.
Difference Between Damnum Sine Injuria and Injuria Sine Damnum
|S.No.||Damnum Sine Injuria||Injuria Sine Damnum|
|1.||Damnum Sine Injuria refers to the loss of money property or any physical damage so has been suffered by the plaintiff even though the act so is done is with the intention to cause harm to the plaintiff, it won’t be actionable in the court of law. As any injury suffered without any damage to the legal right is not actionable in law.||Injuria Sine Damnum refers to the damage suffered by the plaintiff due to the violation of legal rights done by the other, even though there is no harm or loss or injury being suffered by the plaintiff. Hence in this, the plaintiff has to only prove that his/her legal rights have been violated, as it is actionable per se.|
|2.||It is a loss without infringement of any legal right, hence does not lead to any action.||It is a violation of a legal right where even though the plaintiff has not suffered any damages, there is still a cause of action.|
|3.||No compensation is given by the court as damages.||Compensation in the form of damages is awarded by the court.|
|4.||This maxim is for those moral wrongs which are of no use in the eyes of the law.||This maxim stands for legal wrongs that are actionable when a person’s legal right is violated.|
|5.||The principle of this maxim is that a person exercises within reasonable limits in such a way that the action is not performed simply because it causes harm to other people.||The principle of this maxim is that whenever there is an invasion of a legal right it causes an action and the person whose right is vested is entitled to take action.|
|6.||In this, the plaintiff is harmed but there is no legal injury.||In this, the plaintiff suffers a legal injury, no matter if they have suffered any damages in that account.|
|7.||Damage is not actionable without injury.||It is actionable because there is a violation of a legal right.|
Third Constituent of Tort: – Legal Remedy
Meaning of Legal Remedy: – When the aggrieved person is taken back to the position that they were enjoying before their rights were infringed, they are said to have been provided with a legal remedy. A legal remedy is one such treatment. There are various types of legal remedies. A tort is a civil injury, but not all civilian injuries are torture. Wrong act should come under the category of wrong for which the remedy of civil action for damages is available.
For example: – If something that belongs to you has been taken away from you by a party, the court can either ask them to pay you back in money, or ask them to return your belongings as they were, and may also punish the party in some cases.
Remedies in Tort Law are of 2 types: –
- Judicial Remedies: – These are the remedies that the courts of law provide to an aggrieved party.
- Extra-Judicial Remedies: – If the injured party takes the law in their own hand (albeit lawfully), the remedies are called extra-judicial remedies.
A remedy necessary for a loss is an action for a loss. But there are other solutions as well: –
- In addition to damages, injunction can also be obtained in some wrong cases.
- The specific restoration of a property may have been claimed in an act of detaining the property.
- In cases of eviction of land, the plaintiff can also claim the recovery of his land.
But primarily, it is the right to harm that brings certain wrongful acts under the purview of the law of tort.
The Law of Torts is said to be a development of the maxim “ubi jus ibi remedium“, which roughly means that “for every wrong, the law provides a remedy”. But this does not mean that there is a remedy for every wrong. There are many moral and political mistakes that have no legal remedy. For example, there is no remedy for a solemn promise beach that is not under seal and which is built without thought.
Case Laws under Constituents of Tort
- Sain Das vs. Ujagar Singh (1940)
Judgement of the Case: – In this case, the court held that minor damages are usually awarded and the principle of injuria sine damno applies to an immovable property when there has been an undue intrusion on the property in the possession of another. It was also concluded that this rule cannot be extended to every case of attachment of property irrespective of the circumstances. So overall, maxim injuria sine damno refers to remedies that are provided in the form of damages or compensation in violation of any legal right such that there is an action if the violation of a legal right occurs, even if the other do no harm. In other words, it is a violation of the right where no harm is caused but it creates cause of action.
- Ashby vs. White (1703)
Facts of the Case: – In this case, the plaintiff was an eligible voter in the parliamentary elections held at that time. The Respondent, a Returning Officer, wrongly refused to take the vote of the plaintiff. The plaintiff was not harmed because the candidate he wanted to vote for had already won the election but still, the defendant was held liable.
Judgement of the Case: – It was concluded that the damage is not only economic, but the injury imports the damage, so when the rights of a person are hampered, he is entitled to remedy.
- Mayor & Co. of Bradford vs. Pickles (1895)
Facts of the Case: – The Corporation of Bradford filed a suit against the defendant alleging that the defendant’s act of digging a well in land owned by the defendant cut off the underground supply of water to the corporation’s well, causing them to not have an adequate supply. They have suffered monetary loss. Drainage of water for the people living under the jurisdiction of the Corporation.
Judgement of the Case: – It is held that the defendant is not liable as he has not violated any of the legal rights of the plaintiff.
- Gloucester Grammar School (1410)
Facts of the Case: – A schoolmaster founded the plaintiff’s rival school, and since competition caused the plaintiff to reduce his fees from 40 pence to 12 pence per quarter. Thus, claimed compensation for the damage caused to the respondent. It held that there was no remedy for the damages caused to the plaintiff, as the act, despite being morally wrong, did not infringe any legal right of the plaintiff.
Judgement of the Case: – The court considers in cases where a legal right has been violated those damages are to be awarded, but in cases where no legal right has been violated, the maxim damnum sine injuria applies and no remedy is available for it. So, it can rightly be said that an act which is done legally or legally, without negligence, and in the exercise of a legal right, such a loss which is caused to another, is damage without injury.