Law of Torts – Jurisprudence, Interpretation & General Laws Important Questions

Law of Torts – Jurisprudence, Interpretation & General Laws Important Questions

Question 1.
Explain with illustration the doctrine of ‘damnum sine injuria ’and ‘injuria sine Damno’. [Dec 2010 (6 Marks)]
Answer:
Damnum sine injuria: Damnum means damage in the sense of loss of money, comfort, health, service, or physical hurt or the like.

Injuria means a breach of a legal right i.e. infringement of a right conferred by law on the plaintiff.

In some cases, the act or omission of the defendant may have caused damage to the claimant but the claimant may have no action as the interest affected may not be one protected by law. Lawyers refer to this as damnum sine injuria or harm without legal wrong. Therefore, causing damage however substantial to another person is not actionable in law, unless there is also a violation of the legal right of the plaintiff.

Example: A opens a fish & chip shop in the same street as B’s fish & chip shop. A reduces his prices with the intention of putting B out of business. A has committed no tort as losses caused by lawful business competition are not actionable in tort.

Injuria Sine Damnum: There are cases where conduct is actionable even though no damage has been caused. This is known as injuria sine damno. The maxim ‘injuria sine damno means a breach of a legal right without damage. In other words, there is an injury without damage or loss. It means infringement of legal rights not resulting in damages but giving the right to sue, to the plaintiff as the infringement is an injury in law. This is because there are certain absolute private rights or interests of an individual, so vital, that the infringement itself would be actionable in tort even if there is no proof of damages.

Example: If A walks across B’s land without B’s permission then A will commit the tort of trespass to land, even though he does not cause any damage to the land.

Question 2.
Alok was running a school at a certain place. Bimal started another school near the school of Alok. As a result of this, most of the students of Alok’s school left his school and joined Bimal’s school. Due to competition, Alok had to reduce the fees by ₹? 40 per student per quarter thereby suffering huge monetary loss. Alok instituted a suit against Bimal in the court for claiming compensation. Is the suit instituted by Alok maintainable? [June 2011 (6 Marks)]
Answer:
In some cases, the act or omission of the defendant may have caused damage to the claimant but the claimant may have no action as the interest affected may not be one protected by law. This is explained by the doctrine of “damnum sine injuria”, which means harm without legal wrong.

The maxim ‘damnum sine injuria applicable for the given case.

Bimal has committed no tort as losses caused by lawful business competition are not actionable in tort. Therefore, the suit instituted by Alok is not maintainable as per doctrine damnum sine injuria.

Question 3.
Distinguish between: ‘Damnum sine injuria and ‘injuria sine Damno’. [June 2014 (4 Marks)]
Answer:
Damnum sine injuria: Damnum means damage in the sense of loss of money, comfort, health, service or physical hurt, or the like.

Injuria means a breach of a legal right i.e. infringement of a right conferred by law on the plaintiff.

In some cases, the act or omission of the defendant may have caused damage to the claimant but the claimant may have no action as the interest affected may not be one protected by law. Lawyers refer to this as damnum sine injuria or harm without legal wrong. Therefore, causing damage however substantial to another person is not actionable in law, unless there is also a violation of the legal right of the plaintiff.

Example: A opens a fish & chip shop in the same street as B’s fish & chip shop. A reduces his prices with the intention of putting B out of business. A has committed no tort as losses caused by lawful business competition are not actionable in tort.

Injuria Sine Damnum: There are cases where conduct is actionable even though no damage has been caused. This is known as injuria sine damno. The maxim ‘injuria sine damno means a breach of a legal right without damage. In other words, there is an injury without damage or loss. It means infringement of legal rights not resulting in damages but giving the right to sue, to the plaintiff as the infringement is an injury in law. This is because there are certain absolute private rights or interests of an individual, so vital, that the infringement itself would be actionable in tort even if there is no proof of damages.

Example: If A walks across B’s land without B’s permission then A will commit the tort of trespass to land, even though he does not cause any damage to the land.

Question 4.
Distinguish between ‘Damnum Sine Injuria’ and ‘Injuria Sine Damnum’ P under the law relating to Torts. [Dec 2018 (4 Marks)]
Answer:
Damnum sine injuria: Damnum means damage in the sense of loss of money, comfort, health, service or physical hurt, or the like.

Injuria means a breach of a legal right i.e. infringement of a right conferred by law on the plaintiff.

In some cases, the act or omission of the defendant may have caused damage to the claimant but the claimant may have no action as the interest affected may not be one protected by law. Lawyers refer to this as damnum sine injuria or harm without legal wrong. Therefore, causing damage however substantial to another person is not actionable in law, unless there is also a violation of the legal right of the plaintiff.

Example: A opens a fish & chip shop in the same street as B’s fish & chip shop. A reduces his prices with the intention of putting B out of business. A has committed no tort as losses caused by lawful business competition are not actionable in tort.

Injuria Sine Damnum: There are cases where conduct is actionable even though no damage has been caused. This is known as injuria sine damno. The maxim ‘injuria sine damno means a breach of a legal right without damage. In other words, there is an injury without damage or loss. It means infringement of legal rights not resulting in damages but giving the right to sue, to the plaintiff as the infringement is an injury in law. This is because there are certain absolute private rights or interests of an individual, so vital, that the infringement itself would be actionable in tort even if there is no proof of damages.

Question 5.
Write a short note on the Rule of strict liability as laid down in Rylands v. Fletcher [Dec 2010 (4 Marks)]
Answer:
Rules of strict liability refer that if a person brings anything from outside and accumulates on his land, which it escapes may cause damage to his neighbors, he does so at his own risk. He will be responsible for damage, however carefully he might have been, and whatever precautions he might have taken to prevent damage. This principle was laid down in the case of Rylands v. Fletcher (1868) L.R. 3 H.L. 330.

Fletcher (plaintiff) leased several underground coal mines from land adjacent to that owned by Rylands (defendant). Rylands owned a mill and built a reservoir on his land for the purpose of supplying water to that mill. Rylands employed engineers and contractors to build the reservoir. In the course of building the reservoir, these employees learned that it was being built on top of abandoned underground coal mines.

This fact was unknown by Rylands. After the reservoir was completed, it broke and flooded Fletcher’s coal mines. This caused damage to Fletcher’s property, and Fletcher brought suit against Rylands. Rylands was held strictly liable for damage caused to Fletcher’s property by water from the broken reservoir.

But, later, it was decided in the case of reading vs. Lyons that the following two conditions were necessary for the application of the rule decided in the case of Rylands v. Fletcher.

  • Escape of something from the control of the defendant, which is likely to do mischief.
  • When a defendant is making a non-natural use of the land.

If either of these conditions is absent, the rule of strict liability will not apply.

Question 6.
A mill owner employed an independent contractor to construct a reservoir on his land to provide water for his mill. There were old disused mining shafts under the site of the reservoir, which the contractor failed to observe because they were filled with soil. Therefore, the contractor did not block them. When water was filled in the reservoir, it burst through the shaft and flooded the plaintiff’s coal mines on the adjoining land. Is the mill owner liable to compensate for loss or damage caused to the plaintiff? Give reasons. [June 2011 (6 Marks)]
Answer:
As per rules of strict liability, if a person brings anything from outside and accumulates on his land, which it escapes may cause damage to his neighbors; he does so at his own risk. He will be responsible for damage, however carefully he might have been, and whatever precautions he might have taken to prevent damage. This principle was laid down in the case of Rylands v. Fletcher.

As per the facts given in case an independent contractor employed by mill owner was negligent as he failed to block the old disused mining shafts under the site of the reservoir and due to this negligence water was filled in the reservoir and it burst through the shaft and flooded the plaintiff’s coal mines on the adjoining land. Thus, applying the ‘rules of strict liability the mill owner will be liable for damages to the coal mine owner.

Question 7.
Explain strict or absolute liability under the law of torts. [Dec. 2011 (6 Marks)]
Answer:
Rules of strict liability refer that if a person brings anything from outside and accumulates on his land, which it escapes may cause damage to his neighbors, he does so at his own risk. He will be responsible for damage, however carefully he might have been, and whatever precautions he might have taken to prevent damage. This principle was laid down in the case of Rylands v. Fletcher (1868) L.R. 3 H.L. 330.

Fletcher (plaintiff) leased several underground coal mines from land adjacent to that owned by Rylands (defendant). Rylands owned a mill and built a reservoir on his land for the purpose of supplying water to that mill. Rylands employed engineers and contractors to build the reservoir. In the course of building the reservoir, these employees learned that it was being built on top of abandoned underground coal mines.

This fact was unknown by Rylands. After the reservoir was completed, it broke and flooded Fletcher’s coal mines. This caused damage to Fletcher’s property, and Fletcher brought suit against Rylands. Rylands was held strictly liable for damage caused to Fletcher’s property by water from the broken reservoir.

But, later, it was decided in the case of reading vs. Lyons that the following two conditions were necessary for the application of the rule decided in the case of Rylands v. Fletcher.

  • Escape of something from the control of the defendant, which is likely to do mischief.
  • When a defendant is making a non-natural use of the land.

If either of these conditions is absent, the rule of strict liability will not apply.

Question 8.
Describe the exceptions to the rule of strict liability. [June 2012 (5 Marks)]
Answer:
Rules of strict liability refer that if a person brings anything from outside and accumulates on his land, which it escapes may cause damage to his neighbors, he does so at his own risk. He will be responsible for damage, however carefully he might have been, and whatever precautions he might have taken to prevent damage. This principle was laid down in the case of Rylands v. Fletcher.

Exceptions to the rule of strict liability:
Damage due to natural use of the land: The rule of strict liability does not apply in the case where the things are present on a person’s land in the natural form or arise on the land, even though they are dangerous.

Consent of the plaintiff: The rule of strict liability is not applicable in the cases where the things which escape were brought or kept upon the defendant’s premises by the defendant with the consent of the plaintiff.

Act of the third party: If the harm has been caused due to the act of a stranger, who is neither the defendant’s servant nor an agent or has no control over him the defendant will not be liable.

Statutory authority: Public bodies performing a statutory duty such as the supply of water, electricity, etc., are exempted from liability, so long as they have taken reasonable care and are not negligent.

Act of God: The principle of strict liability does not apply for the damage caused due to acts that are irresistible & beyond human contemplation & caused due to the operation of some superior force that is beyond human control.

Escape due to plaintiff’s own default: If the damage is caused due to the plaintiff’s own action or default the defendant is exempted from liability, i.e. if the plaintiff suffers damage by his own intrusion into the defendant’s property, he cannot complain about damage so caused.

Question 9.
The driver of a petrol lorry, while transferring petrol from the lorry to an underground tank at a garage, struck a matchstick in order to light a cigarette and then threw it, still alight on the floor. An explosion and a fire ensued. Who is liable for the damage so caused? Decide giving case law on this point. [June 2013 (5 Marks)]
Answer:
When a servant commits a tort in the ordinary course of his employment as a servant, the master is liable for the same.

An act is deemed to be done in the course of employment if it is either:

  • A wrongful act authorized by the employer, or
  • A wrongful and unauthorized mode of doing some act authorized by the employer.

The facts of the given case are similar to Century Insurance Co. Ltd. v. Northern Ireland Road Transport Board In this case, the driver of a petrol lorry, while transferring petrol from the lorry to an underground tank at a garage, struck a match in order to light a cigarette and then threw it, still alight on the floor. An explosion and a fire ensued. The House of Lords held his employers liable for the damage caused, for he did the act in the course of carrying out his task of delivering petrol; it was an unauthorized way of doing what he was employed to do.

Question 10.
Vicarious liability of the State. Discuss. [Dec 2013 (4 Marks)]
Answer:
Unlike the Crown Proceeding Act, 1947 of England, we have no statutory provision with respect to the liability of the State in India. When a case of Government liability in tort comes before the Courts, the question is whether the particular Government activity, which gave rise to the tort, was the sovereign function or non-sovereign function. If it is a sovereign function it could claim immunity from the tortuous liability, otherwise not. Generally, the activities of commercial nature or those which can be carried out by the private individual are termed as non-sovereign functions.

In India, Article 300 of the Constitution declares that the Government of India or of a State may be sued for the tortious acts of its servants in the same manner as the Dominion of India and the corresponding provinces could have sued or have been sued before the commencement of the Constitution. This rule is, however, subject to any such law made by the Parliament or the State Legislature. No law has so far been passed as contemplated by Article 300(1).

Question 11.
Swaraj an employer of ABC Company Ltd., appointed Rakesh as an independent contractor. Discuss under what circumstances Swaraj would be liable for the fault of Rakesh. [Dec 2018 (5 Marks)]
Answer:
Employer & Independent Contractor: The employer is generally not liable for the acts of an independent contractor. However, the employer is liable in the following cases for the acts of an independent contractor:

  • When the employer authorizes him to commit a tort.
  • In torts of strict liability.
  • Negligence of independent contractor.

In Philips v. Britania Hygienic Laundry Co., the owner of the lorry was held not liable when a third-party’s vehicle was damaged, in consequence of the negligent repair of his lorry by a garage proprietor.

Thus, employer Swaraj is generally not liable for the acts of Rakesh (independent contractor) but may be held liable in above three cases stated above.

Question 12.
Anil and Amit are two partners of a firm. Anil, while ordinarily dealing With another firm, bribed that firm’s clerk to divulge secret relating to the other firm where that clerk was working, in this case, who shall be liable—whether both the Partners i.e. Anil and Amit or only Anil? Explain. [Dec. 2019 (4 Marks)]
Answer:
For the tort committed by a partner in the ordinary course of the business of the firm, all the other partners are liable therefore to the same extent as the guilty partner. The liability of the partners is joint and several. In Hamlyn v. Houston & Co., one of the two partners bribed the plaintiff’s clerk and induced him to divulge secrets relating to his employer’s business. It was held that both the partners were liable for the tort committed by only one of them.

Question 13.
Discuss the ‘Rule of Strict Liability’ under the Law of Torts. [Dec 2018 (4 Marks)]
Answer:
Rules of strict liability refer that if a person brings anything from outside and accumulates on his land, which it escapes may cause damage to his neighbors, he does so at his own risk. He will be responsible for damage, however carefully he might have been, and whatever precautions he might have taken to prevent damage. This principle was laid down in the case of Rylands v. Fletcher.

Fletcher (plaintiff) leased several underground coal mines from land adjacent to that owned by Rylands (defendant). Rylands owned a mill and built a reservoir on his land for the purpose of supplying water to that mill. Rylands employed engineers and contractors to build the reservoir. In the course of building the reservoir, these employees learned that it was being built on top of abandoned underground coal mines.

This fact was unknown by Rylands. After the reservoir was completed, it broke and flooded Fletcher’s coal mines. This caused damage to Fletcher’s property, and Fletcher brought suit against Rylands. Rylands was held strictly liable for damage caused to Fletcher’s property by water from the broken reservoir.

But, later, it was decided in the case of reading v. Lyons, that the following two conditions were necessary for the application of the rule decided in the case of Rylands v. Fletcher.

  • Escape of something from the control of the defendant, which is likely to do mischief.
  • When a defendant is making a non-natural use of the land.

If either of these conditions is absent, the rule of strict liability will not apply.

Question 14.
Discuss the vicarious or tortious liability of the state for the act of his servant. Refer to relevant Judgments. [June 2019 (4 Marks)]
Answer:
Unlike the Crown Proceeding Act, 1947 of England, we have no statutory provision with respect to the liability of the State in India. When a case of Government liability in tort comes before the Courts, the question is whether the particular Government activity, which gave rise to the tort, was the sovereign function or non-sovereign function. If it is a sovereign function it could claim immunity from the tortuous liability, otherwise not. Generally, the activities of commercial nature or those which can be carried out by the private individual are termed as non-sovereign functions.

In Kasturi Lal\. State of U. P, the Government was not held liable for the tort committed by its servant because the tort was said to have been committed by him in the course of the discharge of statutory duties. The statutory functions imposed on the employee were referable to and ultimately based on the delegation of sovereign powers of the State. The Court held that the Government was not liable as the activity involved was a sovereign activity.

In-State of Rajasthan v. Vidyawati, the driver of a jeep, owned and maintained by the State of Rajasthan for the official use of the Collector of the district, drove it rashly and negligently while taking it back from the workshop to the residence of the Collector after repairs, knocked down a pedestrian and fatally injured him. The State was sued for damages. The Supreme Court held that the State was vicariously liable for damages caused by the negligence of the driver.

Question 15.
Distinguish between: Battery&Assault [June 2010 (4 Marks)]
Answer:
Following are the main points of difference between battery & assault:

Points Battery Assault
Meaning Any direct application of force to the person without his consent or lawful justification is wrong of battery. When the defendant by his act creates an apprehension in the mind of the plaintiff that he is going to commit battery against him, the tort of assault is committed.
Purpose To cause physical harm to other people. To just threaten other people.
Important aspect Physical contact is mandatory. The threat of violence is enough; no physical contact is necessary.
Example To throw a stone so that another person gets a physical injury. If the person shows a stone to another person and makes apprehension that he is going to throw it on him but actually do not throw a stone.

Question 16.
Distinguish between: Libel & Slander [Dec 2012 (4 Marks)]
Answer:
Defamation is an attack on the reputation of a person. It means that something is said or done by a person which affects the reputation of another.

Defamation may be classified into the following two heads:
Libel: It is a representation made in some permanent form, e.g. written words, pictures, caricatures, cinema films, effigy, statue, and recorded words. In a cinema film both the photographic part of it and the speech which is synchronized with it amount to tort.

Slander: It is the publication of a defamatory statement in a transient form, a statement of temporary nature such as spoken words, or gestures.

Defamation is a tort as well as a crime in India.
In India, both libel and slander are treated as a crime. Section 499 of the IPC recognizes both libel and slander as an offense. However, torts in criminal law are stricter than in the law of torts.

Question 17.
Distinguish between: Battery & Assault [June 2013 (4 Marks)]
Answer:
Following are the main points of difference between battery & assault:

Points Battery Assault
Meaning Any direct application of force to the person without his consent or lawful justification is wrong of battery. When the defendant by his act creates an apprehension in the mind of the plaintiff that he is going to commit battery against him, the tort of assault is committed.
Purpose To cause physical harm to other people. To just threaten other people.
Important aspect Physical contact is mandatory. The threat of violence is enough; no physical contact is necessary.
Example To throw a stone so that another person gets a physical injury. If the person shows a stone to another person and make apprehension that he is going to throw it on him but actually do not throw a stone.

Question 18.
Distinguish between: ‘Judicial remedies’ and ‘extra-judicial remedies’. [Dec 2013 (4 Marks)]
Answer:
Judicial Remedies: Three types of judicial remedies are available to the plaintiff in an action for tort namely:

  1. Damages,
  2. Injunction, and
  3. Specific Restitution of Property.

Extra-Judicial Remedies: In certain cases, it is lawful to redress one’s injuries by means of self-help without recourse to the court. These remedies are:
(a) Self-defense: It is lawful for any person to use reasonable forces to protect himself, or any other person against any unlawful use of force.

(b) Prevention of trespass: An occupier of land or any person with his authority may use reasonable force to prevent trespassers from entering or to eject them but the force should be reasonable for the purpose.

(c) Re-entry on Land: A person wrongfully disposed of land may retake possession of land if he can do so in a peaceful and reasonable manner.

(d) Re-caption of goods: It is neither a crime nor a tort for a person entitled to possession of a chattel to take it either peacefully or by the use of a reasonable force from one who has wrongly taken it or wrongfully detained it.

(e) Abatement of nuisance: The occupier of the land may lawfully abate (i.e. terminate by his own actions), any nuisance injuriously affecting it.

Thus, he may cut overhanging branches as spreading roots from his neighbor’s trees, but

  1. upon giving notice;
  2. by choosing the least mischievous method;
  3. avoiding unnecessary damage.

(f) Distress damage feasant: An occupier may lawfully seize any cattle or any chattels which are unlawfully on his land doing damage there and detain them until compensation is paid for the damage. The right is known as that of distress damage feasant-to distrain things which are doing damage.

Question 19.
Distinguish between: ‘False imprisonment’ and ‘malicious prosecution’. [June 2014 (4 Marks)]
Answer:
False Imprisonment: Illegal confinement of one individual against his or her will by another individual in such a manner as to violate the confined individual’s right to be free from the restraint of movement.

False imprisonment is the unlawful restraint of a person against his or her will by someone without legal authority or justification. In fact, any person who intentionally restricts another’s freedom of movement without their consent (and without legal justification) may be liable for false imprisonment.

Malicious Prosecution: Malicious prosecution is the tort of initiating a criminal prosecution or civil suit against another party with malice and without probable cause.

Following are the essential elements of this tort:

  • There must have been a prosecution of the plaintiff by the defendant.
  • There must have been a want of reasonable and probable cause for that prosecution.
  • The defendant must have acted maliciously (i.e. with an improper motive and not to further the end of justice).
  • The plaintiff must have suffered damages as a result of the prosecution.
  • The prosecution must have terminated in favor of the plaintiff. Elements of false imprisonment: To prove a false imprisonment claim in a civil lawsuit, the following elements must be present:
  • There must have been willful detention.
  • The detention must have been without consent.
  • The detention was unlawful

Question 20.
Write a short note on Malicious prosecution [June 2011 (4 Marks)]
Answer:
Malicious prosecution is the tort of initiating a criminal prosecution or civil suit against another party with malice and without probable cause.

Following are the essential elements of this tort:

  1. There must have been a prosecution of the plaintiff by the defendant. There must have been a want of reasonable and probable cause for that prosecution.
  2. The defendant must have acted maliciously (i e. with an improper motive and not to further the end of justice).
  3. The plaintiff must have suffered damages as a result of the prosecution. The prosecution must have terminated in favor of the plaintiff.

Question 21.
Discuss briefly “Malicious Prosecution” and its essential elements under the law relating to Torts. [Dec. 2019 (4 Marks)]
Answer:
Malicious prosecution is the tort of initiating a criminal prosecution or civil suit against another party with malice and without probable cause.

The following are the essential elements of this tort:

  • There must have been a prosecution of the plaintiff by the defendant.
  • There must have been a want of reasonable and probable cause for that prosecution.
  • The defendant must have acted maliciously (Le. with an improper motive and not to further the end of justice).
  • The plaintiff must have suffered damages as a result of the prosecution.
  • The prosecution must have terminated in favor of the plaintiff.

Question 22.
What remedies can be sought under the Law of Torts? [Dec 2018 (4 Marks)]
Answer:
These remedies are:
(a) Self-defense: It is lawful for any person to use reasonable forces to protect himself, or any other person against any unlawful use of force.

(b) Prevention of trespass: An occupier of land or any person with his authority may use reasonable force to prevent trespassers from entering or to eject them but the force should be reasonable for the purpose.

(c) Re-entry on Land: A person wrongfully disposed of land may retake possession of land if he can do so in a peaceful and reasonable manner.

(d) Re-caption of goods: It is neither a crime nor a tort for a person entitled to possession of a chattel to take it either peacefully or by the use of a reasonable force from one who has wrongly taken it or wrongfully detained it.

(e) Abatement of nuisance: The occupier of the land may lawfully abate (i.e. terminate by his own actions), any nuisance injuriously affecting it.

Thus, he may cut overhanging branches as spreading roots from his neighbor’s trees, but

  1. upon giving notice;
  2. by choosing the least mischievous method;
  3. avoiding unnecessary damage.

(f) Distress damage feasant: An occupier may lawfully seize any cattle or any chattels which are unlawfully on his land doing damage there and detain them until compensation is paid for the damage. The right is known as that of distress damage feasant-to distrain things which are doing damage.

Jurisprudence, Interpretation & General Laws Questions and Answers

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