Aarushi 22 January 2022
The maxim “Actio-Personalis Moritur Cum Persona” literally means “a personal right of action dies with the person”. It acknowledges the absence of liability of a person once he / she dies. It is a well-known maxim in the Law of Torts. This maxim means that the right of a person who has been injured loses his right for compensation once he dies along with this the person who has caused the injury too does not have to pay for compensation once he / she dies. But this maxim is only applicable in cases for defamation, seduction, enticement of a spouse, and claims for damages for adultery. This maxim does not mean that the relatives cannot sue for damages caused in case the injured person dies, but they cannot sue for personal injuries on the deceased. As soon as the deceased dies, the law invests the property rights of the deceased on his personal representative. No action can be taken against the dead person if the injury done by him on another is only capable to claim unliquidated damages. There are a few exceptions of this maxim, like in the Fatal Accidents Act, 1855 Section 1 A provides that if the injured died due to accident, the person who has caused the injury has to pay compensation for the benefit of the family members of the deceased. This maxim is applicable only in the case of damages for a personal wrong.
Hambly v. Trott
In this case, the defendant died after taking several sheep, goats, pigs and cider from the plaintiff. The action of recovery of goods wrongfully converted for another’s use was under scrutiny to determine whether or not such recovery can be made after the death of the person who caused the damage. Lord Mansfield applied the maxim of Actio-Personalis Moritur Cum Persona and held that this case was very closely related to the property but not enough to declare that the damage recovery would still exist on the death of the person who caused the damaged. Mansfield explained that in case of a contract, this case would have gone in another direction.
Balbir Singh Makol v. Chairman, Sri Ganga Ram Hospital
In this case, the plaintiff had claimed that his son had died due to the negligence of an orthopaedic consultant at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital. During the course of trial, the surgeon passed away. It was held by the court by applying the maxim of Actio-Personalis Moritur Cum Persona that since the surgeon had passed away, his heirs cannot be held liable for a damage caused by him.