law of tort

In this article T.PREETHI, student of government law collage, Tirunelveli, Explains about the concept of CRIME and TORT, along with the difference.

Crime and tort are frequently used words, but what do they mean and where do they differ?


The concept of tort can be defined as a civil wrong, due to which a person unfairly suffers an injury or harm, which leads to legal liability for the person who is responsible for that act. There are two parties involved in this, one is a tortfeasor and the other one is a plaintiff or injured person.

Tortfeasor is the person who commits the tort or the wrongful act and plaintiff is the person who suffered/suffers the loss. Tort action is the term that is used to define a lawsuit filed against the tortious act.

Evolution in India

Tort took its shape in the Indian legal system, taking its roots from the principle of tort law that was developed in the United Kingdom. In most of the landmark judgments that were delivered in India, precedents were taken from the House of Lords or courts in England. All the tort related cases in India are tried in civil courts and the relief includes monetary compensations or an order for injunction or restitution.

Elements that Constitutes Tort

  1. Wrongful act

The primary element is an act, an act by the tortfeasor either by committing something or by omitting to do something that was supposed to be done. This results in breach of duty and needs to be fixed by the authorized person, who holds a position to do so or needs a legal remedy.

  1. Legal damage:

Secondly legal damage, it is the result of breach of any legal right, which the plaintiff needs to prove, the burden of proof lies on the shoulder of the plaintiff. In the landmark case of Ashby vs. white the polling officer restricted the citizen from casting his vote, which constitutes the losing of the voting right. The candidate to whom the citizen was about to vote got elected and in this candidate didn’t suffer any actual damage, yet the polling officer was held liable under the concept of damnum sine injuria because it was a breach of the voting right of the citizen.

  1. Legal remedy:

The last element is the legal remedy which can be availed in the court of law. The remedy is given in the form of monetary compensation or an order for injunction or restitution.

Types of Torts

  1. Intentional tort:

This is a tort caused with the intention, where in the person doing the act, does that purposefully. The person doing the act is well aware of the fact that if he does something wrong or omits doing an act, then it will cause injury or damages to the other people.

This includes act such as

  • Assault
  • Battery
  • Trespass
  • False imprisonment
  • Slander or defamation and
  • libel
  1. Negligent tort:

This usually occurs when a person performs an act without a level of care. It is important to prove that there isn’t any need for additional care to be taken when performing that act.

It includes tort such as negligent harm to the body or to the property of a person.

  1. Tort under strict liability:

Any tort committed by a person under this head will make him liable irrespective of his intention to commit any wrong. The courts have deemed to fit to rule out the need for proving the intention in this case.

For example: producing products with defaults and manufacturing medicines that would have negative effects on humans are examples for this. In the above mentioned cases the manufacturer is the one who will be held liable. This doesn’t affect the others in the supply chain.


The concept of crime is defined by many jurists in many different ways.

Blackstone defines crime as an act committed or omitted in violation of a public law either forbidding or commanding it.

Stephen defines crime as a violation of a right considered in reference to evil tendency of such violation as regards the community at large.

Elements of Crime

The four major elements of crime are

  1. Human being

The wrongful act committed should be done by a human being is under legal obligation to act in a specific manner and in a place of being punishable.

In section 11 of Indian penal code, 1860 (IPC), the word “person” includes a company or association or body of person whether incorporated or not. It also includes artificial or judicial persons.

  1. Mens rea

The next element is the intention or mens rea. There can be no crime of any nature without evil intent or guilty mind. The intention to commit a crime is considered as a fundamental principle of criminal liability.

  1. Actus reus

It states that an overt act or illegal omission should take place with a guilty intention (mens rea). The manifestation of the guilty intention is actus Reus.

  1. Injury

The last element is injury. The injury is caused to an individual or a group at large. The injury should be a illegal one caused to a person’s body, mind, reputation or property as per section 44 of IPC.1860

Difference Between Crime and Tort HAT MAKES THEM DIFFERENT?

It deals with the interest of the society.It’s an act against an particular individual
The proceedings are dealt in the criminal courts of the respective jurisdiction.These proceedings are held in the civil courts of the respective jurisdiction
A criminal act involves mens rea and actus reusA tortious act is mostly out of negligence of a person.
The defendant in this case is punishable under the criminal lawThe defendant has to bear the loss in terms of monetary compensations
It follows the criminal procedureThis follows the civil procedure.


In tort the defendant is ordered to compensation in order to compensate for the loss that was suffered by the plaintiff because of the negligence and in order to get back things to the old form for the plaintiff. While in crime the defendant is punished under the criminal law to induce a fear in the society and make restrain them from committing a criminal law in the future.

On the whole both the laws help the citizens to claim damages protect themselves from these wrongful acts.

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