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Encyclopedia > Torts

In the common law, a tort is a civil wrong for which the law provides a remedy. The term comes from Law French and means, literally, 'a wrong'.

The "law of torts" is a body of civil law or private law that covers the various legal (money damages) and equitable remedies which the law provides for civil wrongs arising from extra-contractual liability, i.e., other than those wrongs which arise from a breach of contractual obligations. The majority of legal claims (and the lawsuits that they are brought in) are torts.

In common law, many torts originated in the criminal law, and there is still some overlap between crime and tort. For example, in English law an assault is both a crime and a tort (a form of trespass to the person).

The difference that grew up between the two is that in tort it is the victim who will normally initiates any court action and who aims to have a wrong compensated (for example by the payment of damages) or prevented (for example by injunctive relief); while in crime actions are normally begun by a public body or their representative, their main focus being the punishment of the crime. Another distinction is that incarceration is available as a penalty for crimes, but not for torts.

Having said that, many jurisdictions retain an punitive element as a part of the law of tort via exemplary damages, and some torts may have a public element, for example public nuisance, with actions being maintained by a public body. While criminal law is primarily punitive, again many jurisdictions have evolved forms of compensation that may be ordered by criminal courts.

See also

Well-known tort cases: Stella Liebeck v. McDonald's Corporation, Donoghue v. Stevenson, Gutnick v. Dow Jones

  Results from FactBites:
Tort - Wex (387 words)
Torts are civil wrongs recognized by law as grounds for a lawsuit.
While some torts are also crimes punishable with imprisonment, the primary aim of tort law is to provide relief for the damages incurred and deter others from committingthe same harms.
Tort law is state law created through judges (common law) and by legislatures (statutory law).
Tort - LoveToKnow 1911 (2485 words)
Again, it is not the case that pecuniary damages are always or necessarily the only remedy for a tort; but the right to bring an action in common law jurisdiction, as distinct from equity, matrimonial or admiralty jurisdiction, with the consequent right to damages, is invariably present where a tort has been committed.
The old forms were designed as penal remedies for manifest breach of the peace or corruption of justice; and traces of the penal element remained in them long after the substance of the procedure had become private and merely civil.
Every member of a civilized commonwealth is entitled to require of others a certain amount of respect for his person, reputation and property, and a certain amount of care and caution when they go about undertakings attended with risk to their neighbours.
  More results at FactBites »



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