Trespass

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  • Topic: Tort, Robert Goff, Baron Goff of Chieveley, Common law
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TRESPASS TO THE PERSON

Aims of Lectures:

* OVERVIEW OF THE TORTS COVERING TRESPASS TO THE PERSON
* DEFENCES TO TRESPASS TO THE PERSON
* ALTHOUGH NOT A PART OF TRESPASS TO THE PERSON WE WILL ALSO ASSESS THE RULE IN WILKINSON V DOWNTON

1. OVERVIEW

The aim/s of these torts: Protection from personal interference / protects your bodily integrity and your liberty.

The trespass torts are actionable per se (there is no need to prove damage).

A trespass to the person may well also be a CRIME and criminal law cases can be helpful but please note that a CIVIL action is designed to achieve a different objective i.e. to vindicate your right / claim damages or to prove a point (Halford v Brookes [1991] 1 WLR 428).

For a recent case against the police see:

ZH v Commissioner of Police [2012] EWHC 604 involving a 16 year old autistic teenager at a swimming pool: http://www.judiciary.gov.uk/Resources/JCO/Documents/Judgments/zh-v-commissioner-of-police.pdf

There are three forms of trespass to the person:

A. ASSAULT
B. BATTERY
C. FALSE IMPRISONMENT

PLEASE NOTE THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN TRESPASS AND NEGLIGENCE:
Trespass is DIRECT and INTENTIONAL. Negligence is INDIRECT and UNINTENTIONAL.

Letang v Cooper [1965] 1 QB 232
Wilson v Pringle [1986] 2 ALL ER 440

A. ASSAULT
“An assault is an act which causes another person to apprehend the infliction of immediate, unlawful, force on his person.” Robert Goff LJ in Collins v Wilcock [1984] 1 WLR 1172, at 1177

PLEASE NOTE: DIRECTNESS IS ALSO IMPORTANT

In everyday language people use the term assault to also describe battery (see below). We will observe the strict legal distinction.

Case Law Examples:

Hopper v Reeve (1817) 7 Taunt 69
Purcell v Horn (1838) 8 A and E 602
Osborne v Veitch (1858) 1 F and F 317

Tuberville v Savage (1669) 1 Mod 3

Stephens v Myers (1830) 4 C and P 349

Thomas v NUM [1985] 2 All ER 1

Darwish v EgyptAir [2006] EWHC 1399 (QB)

DPP v Smith [2006] EWHC 94 (Admin)

CAN WORDS OR EVEN SILENCE CONSTITUTE AN ASSAULT?

R v Meade (1823) 1 Lew CC 184
R v Wilson [1955] 1 WLR
R v Ireland [1997] 3 WLR 534

B. BATTERY

“A battery is the actual infliction of unlawful force on another person.” Robert Goff LJ in Collins v Wilcock [1984] 1 WLR 1172, at 1177

PLEASE NOTE (AGAIN): DIRECTNESS IS IMPORTANT IN BATTERY

Case Law Examples:

Nash v Sheen [1953] CLY 3726
Dodwell v Burford (1670) 1 Mod 24
Haystead v DPP The Times, 2 June 2000, [2000]3 All ER 890
DPP v Smith [2006] EWHC 94 (Admin)

What constitutes a battery and must the force used be HOSTILE?
Cole v Turner (1704) 6 Mod 149
Collins v Wilcock [1984] 1 WLR 1172
Wilson v Pringle [1987] QB 237
F v West Berkshire HA [1989] 2 All ER 545
Wainwright and other v Home Office [2003] UKHL 53

C. FALSE IMPRISONMENT

“Another form of trespass to the person is false imprisonment, which is the unlawful imposition of constraint upon another's freedom of movement from a particular place.” Robert Goff LJ in Collins v Wilcock [1984] 1 WLR 1172, at 1177

This tort relates to our freedom to move around unhindered. For an alternative definition see Street on Torts (below):
“The trespass rather inadequately known as false imprisonment may be defined as an act of the defendant which directly and intentionally or negligently causes the confinement of the plaintiff within an area delimited by the defendant.”

Please note the Human Rights Interface re’ Article 5 of the ECHR (incorporated into UK law by virtue of the Human Rights Act 1998):
Austin v Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis [2009] 1 AC 564

Case law and principles on False Imprisonment

- Liability is strict and the false imprisonment can result from a mistake (i.e. be negligent):
R v Governor of Brockhill Prison, ex p Evans (No.2) [2001] 2 AC 19, HL

- The restraint MUST be TOTAL i.e. COMPLETE
Bird v Jones...
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