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KEY TAKEAWAY

  • Damnum sine Injuria is a legal principle that refers to damages without injury or damages in which the plaintiff's legal rights have not been infringed upon. In the instance of damnum sine injuria, no action is available because no legal right has been violated.
  • Injuria sine damnum is a breach of a legal right that does not cause the plaintiff any injury, loss, or damage, but whenever a legal right has been violated, the person has the right to sue.

INTRODUCTION

A tort is a civil wrong that results from a wrongdoer's or tortfeasor's act or omission (wrongful act) and can be remedied with unliquidated damages. It is a precedent-based law, hence there is no specific statute or method that governs it. According to Salmond "Tort is a civil wrong for which the remedy is a common-law action for unliquidated damages and which is not simply a breach of contract, breach of trust, or other merely equitable obligation." Before a tort may be established, three factors must be looked into: -

  1. The defendant must have committed an act or omission.
  2. The conduct or omission should be in breach of the plaintiff's legal rights.
  3. The defendant's improper act or omission is of such a kind that a legal remedy is available.

In this article, we'll look at two significant legal maxims that apply to torts referring case laws.

DAMNUM SINE INJURIA

Damnum Sine Injuria means "loss or damage in terms of money, property, or any physical loss that occurs without breach of any legal right." It states that even if the act was purposeful and done with the intent of inflicting injury to someone else but without infringing on the person's legal rights, it is not actionable in law. As a result, damnum Sine Injuria is a maxim that refers to an injury sustained by the plaintiff but no breach of the plaintiff's legal rights.With the help of landmark case laws, the above-mentioned maxim can be further elaborated.

In the case of Gloucester Grammar School (1410), a schoolmaster established a competing school to the plaintiff, and the plaintiff had to decrease their rates from 40 pence to 12 pence each quarter as a result of the competition. The plaintiff sought reimbursement from the defendants for the losses he had experienced. The court observed here that the plaintiff was found to have no remedy for the losses incurred because the act, although morally wrong, did not breach any of the plaintiff's legal rights.Furthermore, even though the plaintiff had suffered monetary damages, the court determined that no compensation could be awarded due to the lack of proof of a legal right being breached because, the defendant was entirely within his legal right to open a school, and the defendant's actions did not infringe on the plaintiff's rights. Therefore, as stated earlier the monetary losses incurred as a result of the defendant's actions could not be considered a violation of legal rights.

The case of Mogul Steamship Co. Mcgregor Grow &Co. (1892)is another case to cite under Damnum Sine Injuria. The basic outline of this case is that a majority of steamship firms conspired to push out one company by conducting tea trade at a lower freight rate. This resulted in the plaintiff suffering a wrongful loss, which was followed by a civil lawsuit. According to the House of Lords, the plaintiff had no cause of action, because the defendant had acted lawfully to protect and extend their trade and raise their profits.

INJURIA SINE DAMNUM

This maxim is a mirrored version of Damnum Sine Injuria. According to this maxim, legal injury however trivial it maybe, although does not result in any damage, is entitled to adequate compensation, whether nominal, punitive, or exemplary, based on the legal damage caused to the plaintiff.

Therefore, every person is entitled to certain fundamental rights, whether constitutional or statutory, that he or she is capable of exercising without hindrance. Any infringement of these rights is subject to various sorts of damages or compensation under tort law.The amount of damages is determined by several factors, including the severity of the legal injury, the nature of the infringed right, the plaintiff's relationship with the defendant, the type of damage incurred, precedent requirements, the defendant's foreseen harm, the defendant's effort to mitigate the damage, and so on.It is necessary to consider a few cases on this maxim to gain a better understanding.

In the case of Ashby vs. White (1703), the plaintiff was a qualified voter in the parliamentary elections that took place at the time. The plaintiff's vote was unlawfully disallowed by the defendant, a returning officer. When the matter was placed before the court, it held that although the plaintiff suffered no harm because the candidate for whom he planned to vote had already won the elections, the defendants were held accountable. It was determined that harm is not only monetary but also includes injury and that when a man's rights are violated, he is entitled to compensation.

Another important case is Bhim Singh vs. the State of J&K (1986), in which the petitioner was a member of the J&K legislature. He was unfairly arrested by police while on his way to the assembly session and was not presented before a magistrate in the time allotted as well. The court held that the individual's legal right to attend the meeting was unlawfully denied, and his fundamental right under Article 21 of the Constitution was also violated. Thus, the respondent here was deemed to be at fault, and the petitioner received Rs. 50,000 in compensation from the defendant.

Therefore, in simpler terms, the maxim Injuria Sine Damnum refers to the remedies given in the form of damages or compensation in breach of any legal right, even if no harm is caused to the other party. In other words, it is an infringement of a right that constitutes a cause of action even though no loss has occurred.

CONCLUSION

The two maxims conclude that one is a moral wrong for which the law provides no remedy although it causes great loss or detriment to the plaintiff, while the other is a legal wrong for which the law provides a legal remedy despite the violation of a private right and no actual loss or detriment is present. To summarize, the court presumes that damages must be granted in circumstances where a legal right has been infringed, but in cases where no legal right has been breached, the maxim Damnum sine Injuria applies, and no remedies are available.


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