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The Law of Tort/Torts is a branch of Civil Law which consists of various ‘torts’ or wrongful acts which violate legal rights vested in a person by law. The word ‘tort’ is derived from the Latin word ‘tortum’ which means twisted or crooked, wrong or unlawful. The law imposes a duty to respect the legal rights of others and the person breaching that duty is said to have done a wrongful act. Similarly, tort is a breach of duty recognized under the Law of Torts. This branch of law is mainly built upon case-laws. There are only a few statutory enactments related to the law of torts.
The law of tort has been difficult to define and there is no scientific definition of the same. This is mainly because of the diverse species of wrongs included under it. The essentials of a tort are:
- The defendant must have done some act or omission.
- Such an act or omission should violate a legal right vested in the plaintiff.
There are two popular theories of Torts. While one says that this branch should be called the Law of Tort as every wrongful act for which there is no justification or excuse is to be treated as a tort (Winfield), the other, i.e., the Pigeon-Hole Theory says that it should be called the Law of Torts as it consists of only a number of specific wrongs beyond which the liability under this branch of law cannot arise.
Torts can be classified as:
- Torts actionable per se, i.e., without proof of actual damage resulting from them
- Torts actionable only on proof of actual damage resulting from them
There are two popular maxims which explain the concepts of injury and damages in torts. ‘Injuria sine Damnum’ means ‘injury without damages’. If there has been a violation of a legal right, the same is actionable irrespective of the fact whether the plaintiff has suffered any loss or not. On the other hand, ‘Damnum sine Injuria’ means ‘damage without injury’. It covers those acts which though cause damage to the plaintiff but do not violate his legal right and thus give no right of action to him.
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