Chapter 10: Introduction to Tort Law
Defining Tort Law
Tort: Harm caused by one person to another, other than through breach of contract, and for which the law remedies
Tort-feasor: Person who commits a tort
Broken down into distinct
o Trespass to land: Wrongful interference with someone’s possession of land
o Deceit of fraud: False representation intentionally or recklessly made by person to another that causes damage
o Negligence: Unreasonable conduct, including a careless act or omission that causes harm to another
Ex. A driver injured by another driver’s unsafe lane change
Ex. A lawyer or accountant giving their client incompetent advice (at the same time breach of contract)
Ex. A bar that over-serves a customer.
Tort laws do not automatically provide a remedy when a person is harmed.
o The law must distinguish between a situation in which the law suffered an injured individual should remain and
one in which responsibility for the loss should be shifted to another party considered responsible
o While one may feel sympathy for one who suffered, the law does not provide a remedy for all circumstances. If
damage caused was not due to a careless action or omission, there is no tort-feasor
Category of Torts
Intentional tort: A harmful act that is committed on purpose
o Assault: The threat of imminent physical harm
o Battery: Intentional infliction of harmful or offensive physical contact
Negligent tort: A harmful act that was not intentional
Tort Law and Criminal Law
The same event can give rise to two distinct legal consequences: one in tort and one in criminal law
Purposes of the actions:
o Purpose of criminal prosecution is: censure behaviour and secure punishment of a fine, imprisonment, or both
o Purpose of tort law is to compensate the victim for the harm suffered due to the culpability of another.
Commencing the actions:
o Legal action in criminal law is called prosecution
Usually brought by prosecutors employed by the federal or provincial government
Injured party is rarely brought
o Legal action in tort law is brought by the injured party
Plaintiff: Party that was harmed
Defendant: Party that caused harm
Proving the actions:
o To secure a conviction under 268(1) of the Criminal Code, the Crown must prove that:
Force was applied
It was intentional
It was so serious that it wound, main, disfigure, or endanger one’s life
(It was not self-defense).
o Crown has burden of proof (prosecutor must prove all the elements of the offence beyond reasonable doubt)
o In tort, the plaintiff must prove a civil case in which the plaintiff must convince the judge that there is better
than 50% chance that he was harmed by the defendant.
o Criminal case is much more difficult to prove, because it results in depriving persons of their liberty, and is
generally considered far more serious.
o Generally, a def