Pigeon hole theory is a concept in law of torts regarding the basic principle of liability in torts which states that there is aa definite number of torts outside which liability in tort does not exist.
This theory was introduced by Salmond and he believed that there is no general principle of liability and if the plaintiff can place his wrong in one of the Pigeon holes, each containing a labelled tort, he will succeed. Salmond also stated that Just as criminal law consists of a body of rules establishing specific offences, so the law of torts consists of a body of rules establishing specific injuries.
According to Salmond, there were only specific well-defined wrongs which can be termed as torts. He opposed generalization of torts into law of tort. He proposed that an act can be termed as a tort and a legal remedy is available for the same only if the said act falls within the specified well-defined wrongs.
In order to explain his theory he compared the law of torts to the net set of pigeon holes; each hole consists of a labelled tort such as assault, battery, deceit, slander, negligence, etc. He further stated that if a particular action does not fit in to any of these pigeon holes, then he has committed ‘no tort’.
Criticism of the theory –
Many scholars feel that this theory is narrow, rigid, and unmindful to a fault with regard to future developments in the field of tort law. Some argued that the idea of confining torts into a set of pigeon holes is untenable as the law of tort is continuously expanding, which is evident from the decisions of Donoghue v. Stevenson ( UKHL 100).
Winfield’s theory of Law of tort
According to this theory, all injuries done to a person are torts unless there is justification recognized by law. The judgement of Rylands v. Fletcher ( UKHL 1) (Tort of strict liability) supported this theory.
Further reading material for the same - https://www.legalbites.in/pigeon-hole-theory/#_ftn8