Law of Tresspass

Topics: Tort, Tort law, Battery Pages: 7 (1123 words) Published: December 2, 2012
LAW OF TORT LAW2002-N 20011/12

Lectures 3 and 4: Trespass to the Person
Lectures 5 – 12:Negligence



Steele Chap 2 to page 81; Street Chap 3; Winfield Chap 4.



Battery: intentional application of force to another person.

Assault: act of the defendant which causes to the claimant reasonable apprehension of the infliction of an immediate battery on him by the defendant.


1.The character of the act of D

a)It must be a positive act.
b)D must have control over what he is doing.
c)There must be force and contact.

Collins v Wilcock [1984] All ER 374

Wilson v Pringle [1987] QB 237.

In Re F (Mental Patient: Sterilization) [1990] 2 AC 1

2.State of Mind

ie. the relationship between trespass and negligence.

Letang v Cooper [1965] 1 QB 232; [1964] 3 WLR 573;
[1964] 2 All ER 929; [1964] 2 Lloyd's Rep. 339.

Note that since Fowler v Lanning [1959] 1 QB 426; [1959] 2 WLR 241; [1959] 1 All ER 290. C must prove that D acted intentionally or negligently. 3.Livingstone v Ministry of Defence (1984) 15 NIJB - transferred malice

4.No consent by C and the burden is on C to prove it.

Freeman v Home Office (No 2) [1984] QB 524

5.No damage need be proved.


1.This means the act of putting another person in reasonable fear or apprehension of immediate battery.

eg. pointing loaded gun
shaking one's fist under C's nose. But not shaking fist from window of departing train. Thomas v NUM [1985] 2 All ER 1, 24

2.Mere words are not assault however menacing: there must be threatening acts

Meade's Case (1823) 1 Lew CC 184

"No words or singing are equivalent to assault".

cf. R v Wilson [1955] 1 WLR 493


a)There is no clear authority on this rule.

b)In the nature of things threatening words are usually
accompanied by threatening gestures.

c)Words accompanying a menacing gesture may negative
its being an assault.

Turbervell v Savadge (1669) 1 Mod.Rep. 3; 2 Keb 545;

NoteStreet says that it is preferable to treat this statement as merely an illustration of the principle that D must have caused C to apprehend an immediate contact rather than to make it a separate rule.

A case to be distinguished is where there is a conditional threat:

Ansell v Thomas [1974] Crim LR 31

See also Read v Coker (1853) 13 C.B. 850

3.Pointing a loaded pistol is obviously an assault.
What if it is unloaded but C does not know this?

There is one criminal case where it was the ratio that to point an unloaded gun at P is an assault

R v St George (1840) 9 C&P 483, 492.

4.If D's blow is intercepted by a third party this will still be an assault.

Stephens v Myers (1830) 4 C&P 349; 34 R.R. 811.

5.The act of D need not produce actual fear just reasonable apprehension.

6.There can be battery without assault.


Definition:The infliction of bodily restraint which is not expressly or impliedly authorised by the law. - Winfield.

State of Mind

This tort normally involves an intentional act in the sense that D must intend to do act which is at least substantially certain to effect the confinement. It is, however, a tort of strict liability in that there need be no intention to act unlawfully –

R v Governors of Brockhill Prison ex parte Evans No.2 [2001] 2 A.C. 19

Malice is irrelevant. On principle negligence ought to be enough. “Accordingly, if a person locks a door being negligently unaware of the presence of somebody in the room, this should be false imprisonment.”: Street

"False" - wrongful.

"Imprisonment" - "Every confinement of the person is an imprisonment, whether it be in a common prison, or in a private house, or in the stocks, or even by forcibly detaining one...
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