law of tort

This article is written by Gaurav Lall pursuing BBA LL.B. (Hons.) at United World School of Law. The article speaks about a brief introduction about tort and the origin of tort with different cases.


A tort is a civil wrong, other than a breach of contract, for which a remedy may be obtained, usually in the form of damages. The three major types of torts are intentional torts, negligence torts, and strict liability torts. A person suffering legal damage may be able to use tort law to receive compensation for those injuries from someone who is legally responsible or liable. For instance, if a surgeon tasked with amputating a patient’s left leg commits medical malpractice by instead amputating her right leg, that patient may be able to pursue a tort lawsuit for monetary damages against the surgeon. Traditionally, with a few significant exceptions, tort law has primarily been a matter of state rather than federal law. Tort law has also historically been a matter of common law rather than statutory law; that is, judges (not legislatures) developed many of the fundamental principles of tort law through different cases adjudication. The three purposes of the tort law. The first is compensating the victim, the second is punishing the wrongdoer and the third is deterring harmful activities.

Intentional Tort

An intentional tort is when an individual or entity purposely engages in conduct that causes injury or damage to another.


There is a specific code of conduct which every person is expected to follow and a legal duty of the public to act a certain way in order to reduce the risk of harm to others.

Strict Liability

Strict liability applies to cases where responsibility for an injury can be imposed on the wrongdoer without proof of negligence or direct fault.

Origin of Tort Law

Preceding 1066, the French William the Conquerors of Norman success of England, the legal framework was to some degree aimless, which was carried out on a case-by-case basis more or less. After 1066, so as to ingest those town laws that had created more than two centuries, famous judges were assigned to travel about a given region. These appointed judges, benefiting by this information, noted and implemented statutes that they considered most impartial in their own court findings. In time, these cases became what is presently called lawful points of reference when referred to often enough.

The law of Tort came to India, through England. After the Norman Conquest, French turned the spoken language in England’s judiciary and thus many of the English laws specialized terms owe their origin to French and tort is one of them. The term ‘tort’ depends on the concept that there are certain rights for everyone in society. The purpose of this tort law to enforce rights and obligations.

Sessions during which these judges oversee trials were named ‘assizes’ or, in modern terms, ‘sittings’. The place from which a judge makes decisions and sentences is called ‘the bench’ even now. Once these precedents were established, they were expected to apply equally to every citizen, from a ruler to a serf, resulting in the term common law.

In the 14th century, the word ‘negligent’ appeared in writs of trespass to denote neglectful conduct:

Cok v Durant [1377], No reference to an endeavour, but London’s custom required everyone to protect his fire safe so that his neighbour was not injured. Note the utilization of the word “neighbour” in the tort of negligence has a particular reverberation.

Beaulieu v Finglam [1401], First reference to “real custom.” Note the use of the term “custom”: ideas of custom, tradition, and precedent are all essential to common law belief and practice.

Characteristics of Tort

1. It is a civil wrong.

2. It arises from breach of duty.

3. It is different from the breach of contract and breach of trust.

4. It is different than a criminal wrong.                                                      

5. It is remedied by unliquidated damages.

Case Laws

Ashby v. White (1703)

In this case, the defendant, a returning officer wrongfully refused to register a duly tendered vote of the plaintiff. The candidate for whom the vote was tendered was elected and no loss was suffered by the rejection of the vote. The Court held that action is allowed on the ground that the violation of the plaintiff’s statutory right was an injury for which he must have a remedy and is actionable without proof of actual damage.

Rylands v. Fletcher (1868)

Facts: The defendant built a reservoir on his land. The water which accumulated in the reservoir entered an old mine shaft and flooded the plaintiff’s mine. It was not foreseeable that this would happen.

Held: The defendant was liable even though the damage was not foreseeable. Judge against criteria on the previous slide.

Donoghue v. Stevenson (1932)) 

A manufacturer of products which he sells in such a form as to show that he intends them to reach the ultimate consumer in the form in which they left him with no reasonable possibility of intermediate examination, and with the knowledge that the absence of reasonable care in the preparation or putting up of the products will result in an injury to the consumer’s life or property, owes a duty to the consumer to take that reasonable care.


A tort is a civil wrong, other than a breach of contract, for which a remedy may be obtained, usually in the form of damages. A tort allows an individual, the victim, to obtain a remedy that serves their own purposes. The origin of tort law was carried out by the judges depending upon various cases that derive from the citizens or the society.

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