A Tort is derived from the Latin word “tortus” which means wrong. It is also known as Judge made law. Law of Torts is not codified. The tort is defined as an act which is conducted by one person towards another person in order to cause injury/harm to the other person. Due to the absence of the Central and State Legislation, the law of tort is not applicable in India. The tort is applicable indirectly as there are many different legislations in India which covers the concepts that are mentioned in the tort law.
In India, the cases of torts are tried in the Civil Courts. As the tort is a concept of English law, before applying any rule of English law, the Indian Court checks whether such a rule is suited to the Indian circumstances. Thus, the application of tort law is selective in India. Under tort law, the relief is granted by way of monetary compensation (damages), an order for injunction or restitution can also be passed.
There are three types of torts; they are Intentional torts (wrongs), Negligence, and Strict Liability. An intentional tort is caused by an intentional wrongful act which is committed by one person towards another person to cause personal injury/harm. An Intentional tort includes Assault, Battery, Fraud, Trespass, False Imprisonment, Slander and Libel.
The basic elements of tort are as follows:
- A wrongful act committed by a person - An act which invades the legal right of the other person is considered as a wrongful act. Any wrongful act which amounts to infringement of a private legal right or breach of a legal duty leads to liability under tort.
- Legal damage must take place - The word damage is used for indicating any injury or loss to the person. A tort consists of an act which is done by a person for causing injury to another person. The legal damage is of 2 types. They are Damnum Sine Injuria which means Damage without Injury and Injuria Sine Damnum which means Injury without Damage. The acts which have caused damage without any injury are not considered as a wrongful act. In Damnum Sine Injuria, the person does not have any right to take action against the other person. The Injuria Sine Damnum means an infringement of a private legal right without causing any actual loss/damage. In case if there is any Injury without Damage, then the person (whose right has been infringed) has a right to take action against the other person.
- The wrongful act must give rise to a legal remedy - The law of tort is based on the maxim, “Ubi jus ibi remedium” which means that there is no wrong without a remedy. In case if there is no remedy, then the act is not considered as a wrongful act. A legal remedy for the wrongful act is monetary compensation (it is also known as damages). The Courts can also pass an order for injunction or restitution.
Types of Intentional Torts
An intentional wrongful act can lead to personal injury. Following are the types of Intentional torts:
- Assault - An Assault is considered an intentional act where a person makes an attempt to cause harm/injury or threatens to cause injury to another person. For Instance, pointing a gun at a person is considered as a wrongful act known as an assault.
- Battery - A Battery is an intentional act which leads to an offensive or harmful act. For Instance, firing a gun or poisoning a person’s drink leads to a Battery. The battery is also considered as a completed assault (as it is not an attempt but a complete act).
- Trespass - Trespass means to illegally enter into someone’s property. Under the tort, trespass is an unjustifiable physical interference of land in possession of one party by another.
- False Imprisonment - False imprisonment is confinement without legal authority. No person has a right to restrict another person’s movement against his wish. It is also known as unlawful imprisonment. For Instance, an armed bank robber threatens the customer not to leave the bank or else he will shoot them. Here, in this case, the bank robber can be charged with the crime of false imprisonment.
- Slander - A Slander is an intentional act where one person makes a false statement against the other person in order to damage the reputation of the other person. For Instance, claiming a person is gay (when it is not true) leads to an intentional act of Slander.
- Libel - A Libel takes place when one person writes or publishes a false statement relating to another person in order to damage his reputation. For Instance, if one person publishes in a newspaper that a particular person is a thief, but it is not true in reality, then it leads to Libel.
- Fraud - Fraud is a wrongful act committed by a person to deceive another person with the intention of gaining some personal profit. Fraud is committed by an illegal or dishonest means. Fraud is an intentional misrepresentation of material existing facts made by one person to others which results in injury to another person.
Torts are considered to be one of the civil wrongs which results in personal injuries. The tort law is a type of law that governs personal injury claims. The tort law ensures that the party which has suffered from personal injuries receives the compensation, and it also helps to deter the other person from committing the same personal injury in future. There are many landmark judgments of the Supreme Court that has helped in shaping the law of tort in India. Many times, the Court has observed that there is a need to codify the tort law in India to facilitate its greater use. Establishing tort law in India will make people aware of this branch of law and will also help in seeking relief. Hence, it is essential to codify the tort law in India in order to make people aware of their rights and liabilities under the tort cases.