Law of Torts
- Ashbyv. White(1703) 2 Ld. Raym 938
The plaintiff was a qualified voter but was wrongfully denied voting in elections by the defendant (returning officer). Although the candidate of the plaintiff won but still the plaintiff was allowed to recover damages because his legalright was violated.
- Bhim Singh v. State of J&K, AIR 1986 SC 494
The petitioner who was M.L.A. was wrongfully detained by the authorities and as a consequence he could not attend Assembly Session. The Supreme Court recognized his legal right and awarded compensation to him.
- Gloucester Grammar School case (1410) Y.B. Hill 11
Defendant set up a rival school and as a result the plaintiff had to reduce the fee because of competition. The court did not allow any remedy to the plaintiff because the defendant had not violated any legal right of the plaintiff. Defendant was within his right to open a rival school. The injury suffered by the plaintiff was not due to violation of any legal right.
- Mayor of Bradford Corporation v. Pickles (1895) A.C. 587
The court held that even if the harm has been caused maliciously; no action will lie unless the plaintiff can prove that he has suffered injuria.
- Hall v. Brooklands Auto Racing Club, (1932) All. ER 221
There was a motor race going on and two cars collided. As a result of collision one of the car was thrown amongst the spectator. The spectator was injured. It was held that the plaintiff impliedly took the risk of the injury.
- Haynes v. Harwood, (1935) 1 K.B. 146
The defendant left two horse van unattended. Horses went berserk and started running on streets. The plaintiff, who was police constable, saw eminent danger to women and children on streets. He took the risk and managed to stop the horses. In the process he suffered injury. The court held that the defendant could not be allowed to take the defence of volentinon fit injuria.
- Nicholas v. Marshland, (1876) 2 Ex.D. 1
Defendant created some artificial lakes on his land. There was extraordinary rainfall (heaviest in human memory) and as a result of it water overflowed and washed away the nearby bridge of plaintiff. The defendant was not held liable because the loss occurred due to act of God.
- Bird v. Holbrook, (1828) 4 Bing 628
Defendant had put spring guns in his garden without fixing any notice. The trespasser was injured from the automatic discharge. It was held that the plaintiff was entitled to recover compensation as the force used was greaterthan the occasion demanded.
- Cope v. Sharpe, (1912) 1 K.B. 496
Defendant entered the plaintiff’s land to prevent the spread of fire to the adjoining land. Since the defendant’s act was considered to be reasonably necessary, he was not held liable for trespass.
- Nitro Glycerine Case, (1872) 15 Wallace 524
Defendants received a wooden case for further transmission. They were not informed of its contents. The contents were found to be leaking and the defendant took them for examination. While examining the contents the nitro glycerine exploded. The defendants were held not liable because it was sheer case of accident.
REMOTENESS OF DAMAGE
- Glasgow Corpn v. Muir, (1943) A.C. 488
Defendant Corporation permitted a picnic party. Members of picnic party were carrying huge gallons of tea through a passage where children were also playing. One of the member lost grip of gallons and few children were injured. It was held that the defendant were not liable because the injury was not foreseeable.
- Scott v. Shephard, 17 WBI 892
‘A’ threw a lighted squib into a crowd. It fell on ‘X’. ‘X’ in order to save him threw it further. It fell on ‘Y”. Y also threw it further and as a result ‘B’ suffered injury. Here, ‘A’ was held liable for his acts because his act was the proximate cause ofthe damage.
- Smith v. London & Western Railway Co., (1870) L.R. 6 C.P. 14
Test of directness was first upheld. In this case railway company was negligent in keeping heap of grass trimmings near the track. Spark from the engine set fire to the material. The fire was carried to the plaintiff’s cottage due to high wind. The railway company was held liable although they could not have foreseen the accident.
- State of Maharashtra v. Kanchanmala Vijay Singh, AIR 1995 SC 2499
Supreme Court held that if an unauthorized and wrongful act of the servant is not so connected with the authorized act as to the mode of doing that authorized act then the master is not liable.
- Beard v. London General Omnibus Co., (1900) 2 QB 530
At the end of the journey the driver of the bus went to take dinner and during his absence the conductor drove the bus in order to turn it around and in that process negligently caused the accident. In this case the master was not held liable since the driving was notthe kind of act the conductor was authorized to do.
- Limpus v. London General Omnibus Co., (1862) 1 H & L 525
There was a specific instruction from the master that bus driver was not supposed to indulge in the race with another bus. In defiance of the specific instruction the driver engaged in a race and caused accident. It was held that in spite of the prohibition from the master the servant was still in the course of employment and master was held liable.
STRICT AND ABSOLUTE LIABILTY
- Rylands v. Fletcher, (1868) L.R. 3 H.L. 330
The rule laid down is generally known as rule of strict liability. In this case the defendant got a reservoir constructed through independent contractors over his land. The reservoir had unused shafts which the contractors failed to observe. When the water was filled in the reservoir it burst through the shafts and flooded the adjoining coal fields of plaintiff. The court held the defendant liable and observed that if a person, for his own purpose, brings on his land anything which is likely to escape and cause mischief then he is prima facie answerable to all the damage which is the naturalconsequence of escape.
- T.C. Balakrishnan v. T.R. Subramanian, AIR 1968 Mad. 161
Explosives in an open ground even on the day of festival is a no-natural use of the land.
- M.C.Mehta v. Union of India, AIR 1987 SC 1086 (popularly known as Oleum Gas Leak Case)
Supreme Court evolved a new principle of absolute liability. This rule is not subject to any exceptions as laid down in Ryland’s case.
- Jacab Mathew v. State of Punjab, AIR 2005 SC 3180
Negligence is a breach of duty caused by omission to do something which a reasonable man guided by those considerations which ordinarily regulate the conduct of human affairs would do, or doing something which a prudent man would not do.
- Donoghue v. Stevenson, (1932) A.C. 562
It is a leading judgment on Negligence. The court held that a person must take reasonable care to avoid acts or omissions which he can reasonably foresee that it will injure theneighbour.
The court defined ‘neighbour’ as ‘person so closely affected by my act I ought reasonably to have them in contemplation as being so affected when I am directing my mind to the acts or omissions which are called in question.’
- Municipal Corporation, Delhi v. Subhagwanti, AIR 1966 SC 1750
Clock tower situated in Chandini Chowk collapsed. It belonged to Municipal Corporation Delhi and was under their control. Trial court and High Court applied the maxim res ipsaloquitor and held that it was the duty of Municipal Corporation to carry out periodical examinations and repair the tower. Supreme Court held that this maxim is applied when the circumstances surrounding the thing which caused the damage was under the control and management of defendant and happening does not occur in normal course without negligence.
- Tolley v. J.S. Fry and Sons Ltd., (1931) A.C. 333
Plaintiff was an amateur golf champion. There was an advertisement in the newspaper which portrayed plaintiff playing golf and a packet of chocolate protruding out of his pocket. The plaintiff contended that the caricature showed that the plaintiff did the advertisement for gain and reward and it compromised his position as amateur golfer. It was held that it was innuendo and hence defamatory.
- Cassidy v. Daily Mirror Newspaper Ltd., (1929) 2 K.B. 331
Mr. Cassidy did not live with his lawful wife and occasionally visited her. The newspaper published a photograph of Mr. Cassidy and wrote that engagement of Mr. Cassidy has been fixed with Miss X. Mrs. Cassidy sued the newspaper alleging that innuendo was that Mr. Cassidy was not her husband and he lived with her in illegal cohabitation. The court held that innuendo was established and innocence of defendant was no excuse.
- W.B.S.E.B. v. D.K. Ray, AIR 2007 SC 976
Malicious prosecution means a judicial proceeding instituted by one against another from a wrongful or improper motiveand without a probable cause.
Supreme Court held that there are two essential elements for constituting malicious prosecution:
1. There is no probable cause for instituting the prosecutioncomplained of,
2. Such proceeding ended in favour of plaintiff.
- Nagendra Nath Ray v. Basanta Das BairagyaILR (1929) 47 Cal. 25
It was held that proceeding before police authorities is noprosecution.
FALSE IMPRISONMENT AND TRESPASS
- Bird vs. Jones, (1845) 7 QB 742
It was held that if a person is prevented from moving in a particular direction but he was allowed to go back then thereis no false imprisonment.
- Perera vs. Vandiyar, (1935) 1 WLR 672
The court held that going beyond the purpose for which person has entered also amounts to trespass.