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.
- Abuse of process,
- Good faith,
- Legal immunity,
- Loss of consortium,
- Interference with contractual relations,
- Malicious prosecution,
- Negligence per se,
- Passing off,
- Product liability,
- Proximate cause,
- Res ipsa loquitur,
- Slander and libel,
- Transferred intent,
- Trespass to chattels
Well-known tort cases: Stella Liebeck v. McDonald's Corporation, Donoghue v. Stevenson, Gutnick v. Dow Jones