Trespass to person : Assault, Battery and False Imprisonment in Torts Law ( Complete Notes pdf )

Trespass to person can be categorized into assault, battery and false imprisonment. 

Assault in Torts Law

Assault is defined under section 351 of Indian Penal Code.

An assault is an act which intentionally causes another person to apprehend the infliction of the immediate, unlawful force on a person.

Assault in Torts Law

Assault in Torts Law

Important ingredients to prove assault : 

  • Apprehension in the mind of the person. )
  • And prima facie ability to do the harm.

Case Law : R V. Meade & Belt ( 1823 )
The defendants surrounded the victim’s house singing, threatening and menacing songs. Plaintiff sued the defendants for doing so but the court held that no assault was committed.

Holroyd J stated that no words or singing are equivalent to an assault. Therefore, words alone can’t amount to assault. However, if the words caused the person to apprehend force then there should be no reason why it couldn’t be an assault.

Therefore, Assault is an act of putting another person in reasonable fear or apprehension of an immediate battery. This could be done by the act amounting to an an attempt or threat to commit a battery that amounts to an actionable tort of assault.

Battery in Torts Law

Battery is defined under section 350 of Indian Penal Code.

A battery consists an intentional application of force to another person without any lawful justification.

Battery in Torts Law

Battery in Torts Law

Essential Requirements : 

  • There should be use of force, and
  • Use of force must be without any lawful justification.

Case Law : Pratap Daji V. B.B & C.I Ry.
The plaintiff entered a carriage on the defendant’s railway but due to oversight¬†he failed to purchase the ticket for his travel. At an intermediate station, he asked for the ticket but he was refused and was asked to get out of the carriage as he was travelling without ticket. When the plaintiff refused to move out of the carriage, the defendant used force to move him out of the carriage.
The court held that here the use of the force is justified as the plaintiff was travelling without ticket. Therefore, defendants were not held liable.

False Imprisonment in Torts Law

False Imprisonment is restraining a person in circumscribed limit without any lawful justification and the consent of the person.

A false imprisonment is complete deprivation of liberty for any time, however short, without any lawful excuse.

False Imprisonment in Torts Law

False Imprisonment in Torts Law

Essentials of False Imprisonment : 

  • There should be total restraint on the liberty of a person.
  • It should be without any lawful justification.

Section 339 of Indian Penal Code states wrongful restraint ( partial restraint ) , Therefore it doesn’t amounts to false imprisonment.

Section 340 of Indian Penal Code ( IPC ) states wrongful confinement ( total restraint ) , that mean no way to escape, thus results in false imprisonment.

Case Law : Bird V. Jones ( 1845 )
Plaintiff was on the highway and wanted to continue along it. But the part of the public highway was closed for spectators who paid to see a boat race. Defendant restricted the plaintiff from passing on in the direction in which he wished to go, though the plaintiff was free to go in any other direction.
Plaintiff sued the defendant for false imprisonment, but since partial restraint doesn’t amount to false imprisonment, defendant was not held liable.

Therefore, if there is reasonable escape route, then there will be no false imprisonment as there will be no total restraint. For Example : if a person is confined in a room at ground floor with window of the room be opened, for a man with ordinary prudence it doesn’t amount to false imprisonment.

Also, period of confinement doesn’t matter, even if the confinement was just for two minutes, it will also be treated as false imprisonment. More the time period of confinement, more will be the compensation.

Intention factor per se is considered as a general rule, i.e, it’s an intentional tort and negligence plays the part of intention.

Knowledge of the plaintiff

Can a person be falsely imprisoned without his knowledge ?? The answer is Yes.

  • Person’s knowledge of false imprisonment doesn’t matter.
  • The ¬†confined plaintiff¬†doesn’t have to be aware of the confinement or harm as it is actionable per se.
  • If the plaintiff knows that he is being confined, he gets more damages than the one who doesn’t¬†know about the confinement.

Case Law : Herring V. Boyle ( Overruled & not preferred now )
School principal ( defendant ) asked the mother of a student to pay the pending fee. If she will not pay the fee then defendant will not let her son move out of the school premises. It was held that the knowledge of person is essential and since child doesn’t know about this, it does not amounts to false imprisonment.

Case Law : Meering V. Graham White Aviation Co. Ltd. ( 1920 ) ( Preferred Judgement )
An employee was suspected of theft  and he was kept in waiting room with some other employees till the police reached. Even other employees were directed to keep an eye on him andprevent from   to go out.
Police came and all the formalities were carried out and found that plaintiff was not involved in theft. Plaintiff sued the defendant for false imprisonment. The court held the company liable though the plaintiff wasn’t aware of the confinement earlier.

Stopping a person by threatening or physical means results in false imprisonment. For example, Raju  was sleeping and Chutki locked the door and then opened before  Raju awakes. This also amounts to false imprisonment.

Unlawful Detention in False Imprisonment

In order to say that a retention to be falsely imprisoned, it is necessary that the retention must be unlawful without any justification.

Case Law : Bhim Singh V. State of Jammu & Kashmir
Bhim Singh(plaintiff) was detained by the police when he was on his way to attend assembly seasion for his work.He was not even presented in front of magistrate within the requisite time. Compensation of Rs. 50,000 was granted to plaintiff as he was falsely imprisoned.

Case Law : Rudul Shah V. Sate of Bihar
The petitioner was acquitted by the court in the year 1968 but was released from Jail in 1982. The state justified the reason behind 14 years that Rudul Shah was going under a medical treatment. Plea was rejected and a compensation of Rs. 35,000 was granted to the plaintiff.

Lawful Detention in False Imprisonment

If there is some lawful justification behind any confinement, then it does not amount to false imprisonment.

Case Law : Herd V. Weardales, Steel, Coal and Coke Co. Ltd.
A contract between the plaintiff and the defendant was signed that plaintiff will work in mine for a particular shift. Plaintiff requested to come out of the mine but defendant didn’t allow him to come out. The court held that there is no false imprisonment as the defendant was having the defence of the signed contract by the plaintiff.¬†

Place of Confinement

It could be any place. It is not necessary that the confined place must be Jail or something like that. Any place where the person is totally restrained of his freedom to move results in false imprisonment.

Defences of False Imprisonment

1. Consent of the plaintiff 

Consent of plaintiff or Volenti Non Fit Injuria : There is no imprisonment if the plaintiff agrees or freely chose to act in conformity with the request of the defendant. For example : One who enters the premises of others upon some terms which involves some restrictions on his liberty can’t complain of false imprisonment.

Case Law : Robinson V. Balmain New Ferry Co. Ltd.
Plaintiff entered a ferry terminal after paying a penny. He then chose¬†to leave without boarding the ferry. Money was demanded by the defendant as to let him pass the exit gate as money was only charged at one side of the crossing. Since, there was a reasonable condition imposed, it can’t be said that the plaintiff was falsely imprisoned.¬†

Case Law : Bird V. Jones ( 1845 )
Plaintiff was on the highway and wanted to continue along it. But the part of the public highway was closed for spectators who paid to see a boat race. Defendant restricted the plaintiff from passing on in the direction in which he wished to go, though the plaintiff was free to go in any other direction.
Plaintiff sued the defendant for false imprisonment, but since partial restraint doesn’t amount to false imprisonment, defendant was not held liable.

Case Law : Rudul Shah V. Sate of Bihar
The petitioner was acquitted by the court in the year 1968 but was released from Jail in 1982. The state justified the reason behind 14 years that Rudul Shah was going under a medical treatment. Plea was rejected and a compensation of Rs. 35,000 was granted to the plaintiff.

Case Law : Bhim Singh V. State of Jammu & Kashmir
Bhim Singh(plaintiff) was detained by the police when he was on his way to attend assembly section for his work.He was not even presented in front of magistrate within the requisite time. Compensation of Rs. 50,000 was granted to plaintiff as he was falsely imprisoned.

Case Law : Mee V. Cruishank
In this case also, a prisoner was retained even after the acquittal for some time. Therefore, defendant was held liable to compensate the plaintiff.

Case Law : Sebastian Hongray V. Union of India
The plaintiff wasn’t presented in front of the court even after the writ habeas corpus was issued. Plaintiff was compensated.

2. Contributory Negligence

If there is contributory negligence, then it might be taken as a defence for false imprisonment.

3. Self Defence 

The law permits the use of reasonable force to protect one’s person or property. If defendant uses force which is necessary for self defence, he will not be liable for the harm caused thereby. The force should not be excessive.

4. Parental Authority & Other Authority 

A parent is not guilty of an assault if he physically interferes with his child. Interference can be by the way of reasonable restraint, or chastisement, or therapeutic reasons.

For example : While taking a blood sample a child may not act nicely, therefore use of force by parent in such case will be reasonable.

5. Preservation of Public place 

Person who disturbs the public worship or public meeting must be lawfully removed for making the things good.

6. Statutory Authority 

Statutory authority also holds good defence for false imprisonment.

7. Prevention of Trespass 

For the prevention of trespass only reasonable and justified force should be used and that too be used after the warning.

8. Inevitable Accidents

Inevitable accidents means something that can’t be avoided or something that wasn’t reasonably foreseen even after due care and caution.

Remedies for False Imprisonment

1. Damages

Damages are the usual sort of remedies that are granted to plaintiff. But in some case aggravated damages or pecuniary damages are granted depending upon the facts of case.

2. Habeas Corpus

It is¬†a writ requiring a person under arrest to be brought before a judge or into court, especially to secure the person’s release unless lawful grounds are shown for their detention.

3. Self Help

Self Help is different from self defence. It means helping yourself to get out of the confinement. Though there are provisions for it :

  • If the means of escape is reasonable, and the plaintiff tries to escape and got injured in the process, he can even claim those damages. For example, A person locked in a room on ground floor with one window open. This is considered as reasonable means of escape.
  • If the means of escape is not reasonable , and still the plaintiff tries to escape and got injured in the process, he can’t get damages for this. For example, A person locked in a room on 7th floor with one window open. Here, it is clearly seen that the means of escape isn’t reasonable.

That’s all for the Trespasser to Person : Assault, Battery, and False Imprisonment in Torts Law. Still left with any doubts regarding the topic ?? Just contact us by commenting down or through our facebook page, and we will reply to you ūüôā

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Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 1 comments
Mutuuza - May 20, 2017

The topics are so vital and makes people informed of certain laws like the law of torts which covers cases of land wrangles. Thanks

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