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Tort Law: A Legal Concept of Fundamental Importance, Part II.

Contents discussed in this blog: 

  1. Introduction 
  2. Classification of Tort Law 

INTRODUCTION 

Tort law falls under the purview of civil law and the primary purpose of its existence is to provide relief (in the form of damages) to the injured party (or parties) with the intention of safeguarding the rights of each and every individual against civil crimes as well as also, acting as a deterrent against those who wish to commit or omit a harmful act. 

You can read more about the fundamentals of tort law in this article where I have talked about the essentials and what exactly amounts to a tort.

Now, in this article, we will learn about the various types of torts that are recognized by the law around the world. 

CLASSIFICATION OF TORT LAW 

As stated previously, the body of tort law is relatively a newer branch of law and thus, there are still major developments to the branch of law happening all the time. [A quick side note, tort law was introduced in India during the British Raj and even after Independence heavily relied on the precedents set by the UK courts and it was relatively recently that the Indian courts (plus other scholars) started providing their own knowledge on the concept.] 

Different sources have provided different sets of classification models. So, to make it easy for all my readers, I’ve compiled a list i.e., incorporating a majority of the different classifications out there to provide you with a comprehensive list. 

According to a number of reputed sources, torts have generally been classified into three major categories: intentional torts, negligent torts, and strict liability torts. In this article, I’ve added another category i.e., torts committed towards a person. 

Torts Done to a Person: 

  1. Assault 
  2. Battery 
  3. False Imprisonment
  4. Defamation 

Torts Done with Intention: 

  1. Assault: This tort also falls under the category of tort done with intention. In simple terms, assault can be defined as an action that is done to harm the other person. 
  2. Battery: It is also done to another person with an intention to cause bodily harm. 
  3. False imprisonment: Restraining an individual within a set of boundaries creating a situation where the individual is unable to escape and bound without consent. 
  4. Trespass: Entering someone’s property without the permission of the owner. 
  5. Fraud: Stating facts or causing the other party to believe in facts that are not necessarily true and in a manner that instigates the other party to do or not to do something that he/she would not do or do, if aware of the facts/truth. 
  6. Defamation: Defamation is the act where a party intentionally attacks the reputation of others with a false publication (commune to a third party) that tends to disgrace them. 
  7. Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress: IIED is a progressive tort that compensates victims of socially heinous behavior. It refers to a behavior that is so outlandish that it causes considerable trauma to the victim. The conduct must be intentional or irresponsible, and it must be one that a reasonable person would expect to be emotionally distressing to another. Severe mental discomfort can be accompanied by physical violence or threats of physical harm.
  8. Private Nuisance: A private nuisance is defined as the unjustified, inappropriate, or unlawful use of one’s property in a way that adversely interferes with the enjoyment or use of another individual’s property. It is important to note that it may happen without an actual TRESPASS or physical invasion of the land.

Please note that generally speaking intention is not essential in every tort but there has been a classification provided as “intentional torts” and “unintentional torts”. 

However, whether the intention is important for making an individual liable under a tort is a different story altogether. You see, for example, if an individual commits an act of battery, it is not important to prove the “intention” per se. 

Torts Done Negligently:

 

Source: GIPHY News
  1. Professional Negligence: As the name suggests, it is a type of tort that is done negligently, without taking the proper steps as one would expect from a professional. For instance, medical negligence is one of the most famous examples of this type of tort. 
  1. Contributory Negligence: Under this type of negligence, the injured person himself can be the cause of the injury, due to the failure of meeting the set standards of prudence accepted by an individual. 
  1. Vicarious Liability: This is another type of negligent tort where the negligent act committed by a person causes the liability to arise for another person. Now, this person for whom the liability has arisen is most likely the person who acts as the principal in this principal-agent relationship. [This topic in itself is a completely different concept which we can discuss in a future article.] 

Torts That Give Rise to Strict Liability:

 

Source: GIPHY
  1. Where the defendant harbored wild animals that escaped and caused property damage. Keeping wild animals is considered an inherently dangerous occupation since they can be ferocious and unpredictable. In so doing, the keeper automatically accepts the risk of liability if the animals cause injury.
  1. Where the defendant engaged in unusually unsafe behaviors that resulted in damage. Strict liability is invoked in circumstances where the defendant’s kept “extremely hazardous” or “exceptionally dangerous” in parameters that may cause damage to the nearby community. 
  1. Certain product liability lawsuits. Under product liability, whoever puts a harmful product in the market in the reach of consumers that could harm or endanger their lives would be strictly liable under this law. 

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