Tort law – outline

Types of torts

Torts against the person

Torts (trespass) against the person – category of torts that describes a civil wrong that causes physical harm to the complainant:

  • Assault (tort) – intentionally and voluntarily causing the reasonable apprehension of an immediate harmful or offensive contact.
  • Battery (tort) – Bringing about an unconsentful harmful or offensive contact with a person or to something closely associated with that person (such as an item of clothing). It differs from assault in that it requires actual contact.
  • False imprisonment – A person is intentionally confined without legal authority.
  • Intentional infliction of emotional distress – Intentional conduct that results in extreme emotional distress.

Negligent torts

Negligence – failure to exercise the care that a reasonably prudent person would exercise in like circumstances

Property torts

  • Trespass to land – Committed when an individual intentionally enters the land of another without lawful excuse. It is actionable per se, and thus the party whose land was entered may sue even if no actual harm is done.
  • Trespass to chattels – Committed when an individual intentionally interferes with the personal property of another. Slight deprivation, like briefly placing a hand on someone else’s car, is not actionable.
  • Conversion (law) – An intentional tort to personal property where the defendant’s willful interference with the chattel deprives plaintiff of the possession of the same.
  • Nuisance – Denial of quiet enjoyment to owners of real property. A private nuisance is an unreasonable, unwarranted, or unlawful interference with another person’s private use and enjoyment of his or her property; whereas a public nuisance is an interference with the rights of the public generally. The test to determine whether an interference is reasonable is whether the gravity of the harm is outweighed by the social benefit of the nuisance.

Dignitary torts

Dignitary torts – a specific category of intentional torts where the cause of action is being subjected to certain kinds of indignities.

  • Defamation – The communication of a statement that makes a false claim, expressively stated or implied to be factual, that may harm the reputation of an entity.
    • Libel – Written defamation
    • Slander – Spoken defamation
    • False light – A tort unique to American jurisprudence which covers defamatory statements which, although true, can give rise to false negative perceptions of the claimant.
  • Invasion of privacy – The unlawful intrusion into the personal life of another person without just cause.
  • Breach of confidence – Protects private information conveyed in confidence; typically requires that the information be of a confidential nature, communicated in confidence, and was disclosed to the detriment of the claimant.
  • Abuse of process – A malicious and deliberate misuse or perversion of regularly issued court process not justified by the underlying legal action.
  • Malicious prosecution – Similar to abuse of process, but includes intent, pursuing without probable cause, and dismissal in favor of the victim. In some jurisdictions, malicious prosecution is reserved for the wrongful initiation of criminal proceedings, while malicious use of process refers to the wrongful initiation of civil proceedings.
  • Alienation of affections – Brought by a spouse against a third party, whom the spouse believes has interfered with his or her marriage. There is no requirement that all affections in the marriage be destroyed, only that there has been some diminution in the love and affection between the married couple.

Economic torts

Economic torts – torts that provide the common law rules on liability which arise out of business transactions such as interference with economic or business relationships and are likely to involve pure economic loss. Also called business torts.

  • Fraud – Making of a false representation by one party with an intention to induce another party into an act of commission or omission owing to which the later party suffers a damage. The first Party may or may not be the benefited by the damage caused to second party. Also, the first party need not be in collusion with someone who actually benefited.
  • Tortious interference – One person intentionally damages the plaintiff’s contractual or other business relationships.
  • Conspiracy (civil) – An agreement between two or more parties to deprive a third party of legal rights or deceive a third party to obtain an illegal objective.
  • Restraint of trade – Contractual obligations not to trade are illegal agreements on public policy grounds unless they are reasonable in the interests concerning both parties and the public at large; this mainly affects post-termination restrictive covenants in employment contracts.
  • Passing off – The tort of selling goods or services in a manner that falsely causes customers to believe they originate from a different brand or supplier.

Strict and absolute liability torts

  • Product liability – The area of law in which products manufacturers, distributors and sellers are held responsible for the injuries caused by their products. Generally, a product liability claim is based on either a design defect, a manufacturing defect, or a failure to warn. This topic is closely associated with negligence, breach of warranty and consumer protection.
  • Ultrahazardous activity – An activity so dangerous that a person engaged in such an activity can be held strictly liable for injuries caused to another person, regardless of whether or not reasonable precautions were taken to prevent others from being injured.
  • Absolute liability – The rule in M. C. Mehta v. Union of India, in Indian tort law is a unique outgrowth of the doctrine of strict liability for ultrahazardous activities. Under this principle of absolute liability, an enterprise is absolutely liable without exceptions to compensate everyone affected by any accident resulting from the operation of hazardous activity.[1]

Posted by PMA admin