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Chapter 4

LAW 122 Chapter Notes - Chapter 4: Voyeurism, Detinue, Narcotics Anonymous

Law and Business
Course Code
LAW 122
Brad Mac Master

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Chapter 4: Intentional Torts
A number of torts require proof of the defendant’s intention. Torts that traditionally been labeled
“intentionally torts” include;
Invasion of privacy
False imprisonment
Trespass to land
Interference with chattel
oIntentional Torts: involves intentional, rather than merely careless, conduct. E.g. Defendant may be
held liable for battery if he deliberately punches the plaintiff.
oAssault: 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 not loaded.
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.
oBattery: consists of offensive bodily contact. There are several points to note about this definition.
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
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 information.
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.
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
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Chapter 4: Intentional Torts
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
oFalse 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 be liable for the tort of malicious prosecution.
oMalicious prosecution: occurs when the defendant improperly causes the plaintiff to be prosecuted.
The focus is not on the plaintiff’s detention or imprisonment, but rather on the fact that he or
she was subjected to criminal proceedings.
The court has to be satisfied that 1) the defendant started the proceedings, 2) out of malice, or
for some improper purpose, and 3) without honestly believing on reasonable grounds that a
crime has been committed, and that 4) the plaintiff was eventually acquitted of the alleged
An imprisonment is false only if it is done without authority. The basic rules are found in the Criminal
A police officer may arrest anyone who is reasonably suspected of 1) being in the act of
committing a crime, or 2) having committed a serious crime in the past.
A private citizen (security guard) is entitled to make an arrest only if a crime is actually being
committed by the suspect.
oTrespass to Land: occurs when the defendant improperly interferes with the plaintiff’s land.
E.g. trespass is committed if a vandal sneaks onto someone’s property. If I kicked a ball into
your yard or if a lawn care comp. mistakenly cuts your grass instead of your neighbour’s. It
is enough that you intended that act, even if you did not intend to do wrong or cause damage.
The tort of trespass is not committed, however, by a person of authority to be on your
property. E.g. police officers are entitled to enter your premises under a search warrant. An
inspector or meter reader may do whatever is reasonably necessary to carry out their duties.
Under normal circumstances, (store business hours) it is assumed that business consented
to the intrusion, it implicitly invited the customer onto the property. However a business can
revoke its consent, as long as it doesn’t violate human rights. E.g. banning a shoplifter from
your store.
Tort law protects not only land, but chattels.
oChattels: are moveable forms of property, such as horses, books, and cars. The most important of
those torts include:
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Chapter 4: Intentional Torts
i. Trespass to Chattels occurs when the defendant interferes with chattels in the plaintiff’s
possession. The element of interference is satisfied if the defendant damages, destroys,
takes, or uses the plaintiff’s goods.
As a general rule, the remedy for trespass of chattel is compensatory damages.
ii. Tort of Conversion occurs when the defendant interferes with the plaintiff’s chattels in a way
that is serious enough to justify a force sale.
E.g. If the defendant takes, detains, uses, buys, sells, damages, or destroys the
plaintiff’s property, he/she will be required to buy the item by paying the market value
that the chattel had at the time of the tort.
It is often difficult to know whether the defendant’s actions are serious enough to
justify a force sale. The courts considers all the following facts:
a. The extent to which the defendant exercised ownership or control over the
b. The extent to which the defendant intended to assert a right that was
inconsistent with the plaintiff’s right to the property.
c. The duration of the defendant’s interference
d. The expense and inconvenience caused to the plaintiff
iii. Tort of Detinue occurs when the defendant fails to return a chattel that the plaintiff is entitled
to possess.
B/c the tort is based on a wrongful detention, the plaintiff is normally required to
demand possession of the property b4 bringing an action.
a. The tort comes to an end as soon as the defendant returns the property to
the plaintiff.
b. If the property has not been returned by the time of the trial, the plaintiff can
ask the court to compel the defendant to do so. The court usually gives the
defendant the option of either giving the property back or paying damages.
oThe Right of Recaption: allows a person to take their own property back.
In some situations the plaintiff may not need the court’s help. E.g. a shopkeeper may be
entitled to grab a watch away from a shoplifter who is trying to leave the store.
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