Law of Torts: Nature and Scope

The law of the land, in its strictest definition, only refers to those standards of behavior that are recognized and upheld by the state. The rules that are acknowledged and followed by courts of justice are, in Salmond's view, what constitute the law. A state's corpus juris, or overall body of law, can be classified into two categories: civil and criminal.

What is Tort Law

The word "tort" is the French translation of the words "wrong" and "delict" from Roman law. The Latin term tortum, which means twisted, crooked, or incorrect and contrasts with the English word rectum, which indicates straight, is the source of the word tort. Everyone is obliged to act honestly, and when someone veers off the straight and narrow and takes a wrong turn, they have committed a tort. Tort thus refers to behavior that is twisted, crooked, or otherwise irregular.

The legal term "tort" in English has taken on a unique connotation as a category of civil wrong or injury. The Norman jurists incorporated it into English law. Tort now refers to a breach of a duty that is not related to a contract that results in a civil claim and is compensable. A truly satisfactory definition of tort still eludes its master despite numerous tries. A tort is generally understood to be a civil wrong that is unrelated to a contract and for which an action for unliquidated damages is the proper resolution. Below are some additional tort definitions −

  • Winfield and Jolowicz : Tortuous liability results from the violation of a legal obligation that is owed to all people and whose violation is actionable for unliquidated damages.

  • According to Salmond and Hueston, a tort is a civil wrong that has a common law claim for unliquidated damages and is not just a breach of contract, trust, or another purely equitable obligation.

The concept of a tort was far more constrained under Hindu and Muslim law than it is under English law. In these systems, punishment for crimes took precedence over making amends for wrongs. The majority of Indian tort law is derived from English tort law, which was founded on English common law foundations. In accordance with the principles of justice, equity, and good conscience and as modified by legislative acts, this was made suited for Indian conditions. With the formation of British courts in India, it had its start.

The Privy Council defined justice, equity, and good conscience as English legal principles that, under Indian society and circumstances, are deemed to be appropriate. Before implementing any English legal principle, Indian courts can determine whether it is appropriate given Indian society and conditions. As a result, only certain parts of English law have been applied in India. According to the Privy Council, the common law's capacity to modify itself to the various conditions of the nations where it has established roots is not one of its weaknesses but rather one of its strengths. The Indian courts are also not constrained by common law when applying English law to a specific issue.

Nature of Tort Law

It includes −

Tort and crime

In the past, tort had its origins in criminal law. Even now, several components of the laws governing damages contain a punitive component. Tort, however, is a type of civil wrong or injury. Depending on the type of legal remedy offered, civil and criminal wrongs are distinguished from one another. A civil wrong is a wrong that results in civil litigation. In contrast to criminal procedures, which have as their goal the punishment of the defendant for some act of which they are accused, civil proceedings deal with the enforcement of some right asserted by the plaintiff as against the defendant. The same mistake may occasionally be the focus of both types of procedures.

Contracts and torts

The distinction between contract and tort is made plain by P.H. Winfield's definition. According to this, tort liability results from the violation of a legal obligation that is owed to all people and whose violation is remedyable through an action for unliquidated damages. A contract is a type of agreement in which the parties to it establish and create a legal obligation. It is a legal connection whose existence, substance, and implications are decided and defined by the parties' agreement. A contract, in Salmond's view, results from the exercise of the independent legislative power granted by the law to individuals so that they may proclaim and specify the nature of their respective rights and duties.

Quasi-Contract and Tort

Instances in which a person is held liable to another without any kind of agreement for money or a benefit to which the other party is more properly entitled fall under the category of a quasi-contract. According to the Orthodox perspective, the presence of a hypothetical contract that is suggested by law serves as the judicial basis for the duty under a quasi-contract. However, according to the radical viewpoint, the responsibility in a quasi-contract is unique and its foundation is the avoidance of unfair enrichment.


Tort law is the branch of civil law that shares some characteristics with the many other fields of law (including criminal law and contract law) but differs significantly from them. Despite the fact that there are differences in opinion among the many jurists regarding the culpability in torts, tort law has been evolved and has established itself firmly in the legal arena. In tort law, there are clearly stated elements and circumstances for liability.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. What does the law of torts serve to protect?

Ans. As was already mentioned, the main goal of tort law is to make amends for those who lose money or property as a result of another's wrongdoing and, if at all possible, to prevent future wrongdoing.

Q2. What kind of tort is it?

Ans. It alludes to infamous or perverse behavior. The English word's equivalent is incorrect. So, under common law, a tort is a civil wrong. Thus, the core concern of tort law is the payment of damages for civil wrongs sustained as a result of another's actions or inactions.

Updated on: 13-Mar-2023

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