Chapter 4: Intentional Torts
A number of torts require proof of the defendant’s intention. Torts that traditionally been labeled
“intentionally torts” include;
Assault False imprisonment
Battery Trespass to land
Invasion of privacy Interference with chattel
o Intentional Torts: involves intentional, rather than merely careless, conduct. E.g. Defendant
may be held liable for battery if he deliberately punches the plaintiff.
A SSAULT AND B ATTERY
o Assault: occurs when the defendant intentionally causes the plaintiff to reasonably believe that
offensive bodily contact is imminent. There are several important points to this definition.
i. The tort is not based on physical contact. It is based on a reasonable belief that such
contact will occur. But, if you punch me from behind, you do not commit the tort of
assault if I didn’t know that the blow came from you.
ii. It is enough if the plaintiff reasonably believed that bodily contact would occur. As a
result, you may commit an assault by pointing a gun in my direction, even if the gun is
iii. The plaintiff must have believed the bodily contact was imminent. E.g. you probably
would not commit an assault if you threaten to kick me two weeks from now, something
more immediate is necessary.
iv. An assault can occur even if the plaintiff was not frightened. It is enough that the
defendant threatened some form of offensive contact. E.g. you may commit an assault by
swinging your fist at me, even if I know that you are too small to do any harm.
o Battery: consists of offensive bodily contact. There are several points to note about this
i. The requirement of “bodily contact” is not strictly applied. It is enough if the defendant
causes something, such as a knife or a bullet, to touch the plaintiff.
ii. Not every form of contact is offensive. Normal social interaction is allowed.
Understanding the tort of battery is especially important for businesses that control
crowds or remove rowdy customer. E.g. Night Clubs. The concept of reason force is
important in other situations as well.
INVASION OF P RIVACY
As new technologies continue to emerge, ppl are becoming more concerned with their
privacy interest. Tort law has not yet caught up with those technological advances. There
is no general tort of invasion of privacy.
There are several reasons why the courts traditionally have been reluctant to recognize a
tort of invasion of privacy. They want to support freedom of expression and freedom of
Privacy is indirectly protected by several torts.
A photographer who sneaks onto someone’s property to obtain candid pictures commits
the tort of trespass to land.
Employees who publish embarrassing details about their employer’s private life may be
held liable for breach of confidence.
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www.notesolution.com Chapter 4: Intentional Torts
English courts have recognized a tort of abuse of private information. E.g. Naomi
Campbell was able to sue a newspaper that published a photograph of her coming out of
a Narcotics Anonymous meeting.
A company that makes unauthorized use of celebrity’s images to sell its own products
may commit the tort of misappropriation of personality.
A news paper that ignores a judge’s instruction & publishes that name of a police officer
who had been sexually assaulted during an undercover investigation may commit the
tort of negligence.
While those torts provide some protection, many ppl still believe that there is room for a
separate tort of invasion of privacy. Parliament was considering Bill C-2 which would
create a crime of “voyeurism” in order to punish ppl who make or sell images that violate
the subjects’ “reasonably expectation of privacy.”
F ALSE IMPRISONMENT
o False Imprisonment: occurs when a person is confined with a fixed area without justification.
An actual prison is not necessary. The tort can be committed if a person was trapped
in a car, locked room, or set adrift in a boat.
Physical force is not necessary. The detention may be psychological. E.g. if a shopper
accompanies a security guard to a back room in order to avoid public embarrassment.
Confronted by a person in uniform who is making a serious demand, many people
feel that they have no choice but to do as they are told.
B/c a police officer has a wider power of arrest than a private citizen; a business
person may reduce the risk of liability by calling a police officer, instead of directly
arresting a suspect. This tactic will not eliminate the risk.
Even if the bus. didn’t direct a police to make an arrest (therefore cannot be held
liable for false imprisonment), it may