What is Tort ? What are it’s characteristics ?


The definition of Tort is not exhaustive . Many eminent authors have defined ‘Tort ‘ but a real exhaustive definition of a tort has yet to be found . ‘Tort ‘is a French word meaning wrong . The word ‘tort’ has actually been derived from the Latin term ‘tortum ‘ which means ‘to twist ‘or ‘wrongful.’ Salmond defined tort as a civil wrong for which the remedy is a common law action for unliquidated damages , and which is not exclusively the breach of a contract or breach of a trust or other merely equitable obligations . The definition given by Salmond has been adopted in different English cases as well as in section 2 of the Indian Limitation Act which defined tort as a civil wrong which is not exclusively the breach of a trust .

The five important characteristics of a tort are as follows :-

1) Civil wrong .
A tort is a civil wrong unlike crime , breach of contract or breach of trust .

2) Infringement of a right in rem .
Tort is an infringement of right in rem and not right in personam . A right in rem is a right which is available against the whole world . As for example , one’s right not to be assaulted or defamed is a right in rem .

3) Right fixed by law .
The right infringed in tort should not be a right based on consent of the parties but it should be a right fixed by law .

4) Common Law action .
The remedy available in tort should be a Common Law action . The Common Law action is also actionable in India .

5) Remedy .
Remedy of a tort should be damages or compensation in money . But the other remedies such as injunction , restitution of land , ejectment of trespasser are also available .