Monday, May 27, 2024





Explain the tort of Assault & Battery in detail.

An injury can be the result of a variety of causes. When an unlawful act is committed intentionally, resulting in the infliction of injury, it is referred to as an Intentional Injury. This type of tort includes a variety of wrongful acts, including trespass, assault and battery. The connection between assault and battery is complex. They are two sides of the same coin, and are among the most perplexing concepts in both tort and criminal law. In some countries, assault and battery have been combined into a single criminal offense, while in others, they are treated as distinct criminal offenses.

An assault is an act of threat or an attempt to cause physical harm to another person, which is accompanied by an obvious physical capacity and intent to do so. In an assault, physical contact is not necessary.

However, an assault is not only a threat if there is no personal violence; in every case, there must be a means to carry out that threat. Any gesture which is intended to give rise to a reasonable belief in the mind of the person being attacked that the person being attacked intends immediately to use violence, or in the words of the Indian penal code, is going to use the use of criminal force on the person being attacked, constitutes an assault if it is accompanied by a present capacity to carry it out.

Therefore, an assault is both an act of intention and an act of violence. For example, if a person strikes another person on the hand, arm or breast in conversation, it is not an assault, as there is no intention to attack; but if the person intending to assault strikes at the person and misses, that is an assault. Similarly, if the person holding the hand raises his hand against the person in a threatening way, and the person does not say anything, then he is an assault.

The menacing attitude and hostile purpose go to make the assault unlawful, e.g., presenting a loaded pistol at any one, or pointing or brandishing a weapon at another with the intention of using it, or riding after a person and obliging him to seek shelter to avoid being beaten. Mere words do not amount to an assault. But the words which the party threatening uses at the time may either give to his gestures such a meaning as may make them amount to an assault, or, on the other hand, may prevent them from being an assault.

Elements of Assault
If one or more elements have not been satisfied then It can be a defense to an assault charge. Elements of the crime of assault are:

An act or conduct intended to created: To prove a criminal attack, the defendants’ behaviour must be motivated to create a situation of fear or danger in the victim’s mind. Accident acts do not include allegations of assault.

A reasonable apprehension: Further, the victim must reasonably believe that the defendant’s conduct will harm or humiliate him. The victim must understand the defendant’s potentially harmful or offensive acts.

Of imminent harm: The victim’s fear must be a direct response to a threat that is imminent. Future threats, such as “I will beat you tomorrow”, will not result in assault charges. In addition, there must be some kind of perceived physical threat to the victim in the loss; For this reason, words by themselves generally do not constitute an attack.

Fagan v Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis
Fagan was sitting in his car when he was approached by a police officer who asked him to take the vehicle. Fagan did so, overturned his car and rolled over a police officer’s leg. The officer forcefully asked him to remove the car from his leg, to which Fagan swore him and refused to take the vehicle and shut down the engine. Fagan was convicted of assaulting a police officer in the execution of his duty. Fagan later appealed the decision. The court held that, Although assault is an independent crime and is to be treated as such, for practical purposes today, assault is generally synonymous with battery. On this basis, it was held that Fagan’s crime was not the refusal to move the car but that having driven on to the foot of the officer and decided not to cease the act, he had established a continual act of battery. This meant that actus Reus and mens rea were present and as such, an assault was committed. Fagan’s conviction was upheld.

R. V. Constanza
A man was convicted of assault occasioning actual bodily harm of a female ex-colleague. For a period of almost two years, the man followed the women home from work, made numerous silent phone calls, wrote her over 800 letters, drove past her house, visited her house without consent, and wrote offensive words on her house’s door three times. Following these actions, she received two additional letters with threatening language. She was soon diagnosed by a doctor as suffering from clinical depression and anxiety due to apprehended fear caused by the man’s actions and letters.

Legal defenses on charges of Assault
As with other types of criminal charges, there may be some defenses to assault charges. This will depend on each individual case, as well as other factors such as state law. Faults commonly charged with assault charges include:

Self-defense: This could be a defense if the defendant was acting out of self-defense. They should only use the amount or display of force that is appropriate in the situation and in proportion to the force being used against them.

Intoxication: In some cases, intoxication can be a legal defense, especially in cases where intoxication affects a person’s ability to act intentionally.

Coercion: This may be a defense if the defendant was forced to attack under threat of harm (for example, if they are being held at gunpoint and for assault at the behest of someone).

Lack of proof: As stated above, if the elements of proof are not found or supported with the correct evidence, it can serve as a legal defense. Violence.

Action for damages
– In the event of wrongful detention, the plaintiff is entitled to bring an action for compensation. Compensation can be sought not only for the loss of liberty, but also for the humiliation and disgrace that may be caused by the wrongful detention. In McGregor’s Opinion on damages, there are few details regarding the nature of the damages in false imprisonment. Generally, the jury is left to their own judgement as to whether or not the injury is a financial loss or a loss of dignity. The main areas of damage would seem to be the loss of liberty (i.e., loss of time) and the loss of dignity (i.e., the loss of mental health, shame and humiliation associated with any loss of social standing).

Self-help– This is the remedy which is available to a person who while he is still under detention instead of waiting for legal action and procuring his release thereby.

Habeas Corpus– It is speedier remedy for procuring the release of a person who is wrongfully detained. Such a writ may be issued either by the Supreme Court under Article 32 or by a High Court under Article 226 of Indian Constitution. By this writ person detaining is required to produce the detained person before the court and justify the detention. If the court finds the detention is without any just or reasonable ground, it will order that the person detained should be immediately released.

• Battery
Battery is the deliberate and direct infliction of physical harm on the body of another person. It is the act of physically striking another person or physically touching them in a manner that is impolite, hostile, punitive, or demeaning.

In Cole v. Turner, HOLT, C.J. declared: First, that the least touching of another in anger is a battery. Secondly, if the one touches the other gently, it will be no battery. Thirdly, if any of them use violence against the other, to force his way in a rude inordinate manner, it will be a battery. ROBERT GOLF, L.J. redefined battery as meaning an intentional physical contact which was not generally acceptable in the ordinary conduct of daily life.

This definition was accepted by the House of Lords in Wainwright v. Home Office.
A battery is a form of assault that, as previously mentioned, involves an intentional act. It differs from an assault in that it necessitates physical contact in order to occur. It cannot be limited to an injury caused by an object held in one’s hand, but encompasses all cases in which a person is struck by a projectile thrown by another. Regardless of whether the force is directed directly at the human body or any object that comes into contact with it, the plaintiff must demonstrate that the use of force was without justification in order to prove the tort of battery.

For example, throwing water on a person is assault; if drops fall on the person, it is battery. Similarly, if a person is riding a horse, it is assault if the horse is riding against the person, and it is battery if the horse rides against the person. Similarly, pulling a chair away, as a joke, from the person who is going to sit on the chair is assault until the person reaches the floor, and then is battery the moment they come in contact with it. The term “assault” is often used to refer to battery. However, any lying on of the hands is not battery. The intention of the party must be taken into account. Touching a person for simply calling them is not battery.

In Stephens v. Myers, the plaintiff was the chairman of a parish meeting. The defendant having been very vociferous, a motion was made and carried by a large majority that he should be turned out.

Upon this, the defendant said he would rather pull the chairman out of the chair, than be turned out of the room, and immediately advanced with his fist clenched towards him; he was thereupon stopped by the churchwarden, who sat next but one to the chairman, at a time when he was not near enough for any blow, he might have mediated to reach the plaintiff; but the witness said that it seemed to them that he was advancing with an intention to strike the chairman. The jury found for the plaintiff with one-shilling damages.

Battery is based on actual physical contact with another person’s body. For example: · Seizing and holding a person so that he or she is unable to move or move; · Throwing over a person’s chair or chair or a carriage in which someone is sitting; Tossing water over someone; Bullying a horse to make it bolt and throw its rider; Taking someone by the collar. causing another person to be medically evaluated against their will; All of these are held to be battery.

Where the plaintiff, who had purchased a ticket for a seat at a cinema show, was forcibly turned out of his seat by the direction of his manager, who was acting under a mistaken belief that the plaintiff had not paid for his seat, it was held that the plaintiff was entitled to recover substantial damages for assault and battery. The purchaser of a ticket for a seat at a theatre or other similar entertainment has a right to stay and witness the whole of the performance, provided he behaves properly and complies with the rules of the management. A civil action lies for assault, and criminal proceedings may also be taken against the wrongdoer.

The fact that the wrongdoer has been fined by a criminal court for the assault is no bar to a civil action against him for damages. The previous conviction of the wrongdoer in a criminal court is no evidence of assault. The factum of the assault must be tried in a civil court, which is not bound by conviction or acquittal in criminal proceedings. A plea of guilty in a criminal court may, but a verdict of conviction cannot, be considered in evidence in a civil court.

Essentials of Battery
Essentials for the battery are:
The intentions for both civil battery and criminal battery are different. Criminal intent to cause the injury is not necessary but the intention to cause the act which harms the person is required as it results in the battery.
The intent of the battery is transferable as when a person tries to hit a person without his consent and he ends up hitting a different person, but the person is still liable for battery. So, the intention is the soul of battery and is very essential.

In order to commit battery, it is necessary to commit harm through force. Harm through force is not a fundamental requirement, but force is a fundamental requirement to commit battery. It does not need to be physical or personal contact, but indirect contact through indirect means is also considered physical contact. For example, using a stick or spitting on another person is also considered a battery. Similarly, harming people by changing their temperature, smell, or light is also a battery.

Battery doesn’t need to be physical contact, as it can also be in relation to future events. For example, if there is an interval between the accused’s actions and the complainant’s injury, then the battery will still be committed. For example, A mixed something harmful in B’s food even after he knew that B would eat it. A has committed battery against B.

In order to complete the battery, it is necessary to inflict damage. This damage may be physical, psychological, or emotional in nature. Battery does not only involve physical harm; the victim must have experienced some form of harm, but the harm must be minimal. Severe damages are not necessary. Furthermore, unwanted sexual contact or inappropriate touching without consent is also considered battery, as it causes physical, emotional, and mental harm to the victim.

No Consent
A battery occurs when the victim is unaware of the conduct of the accused. A battery occurs only when the victim has no knowledge of the contact that is going to take place.

For instance, if a surgeon steals organs from patients in order to sell them, this will be considered a battery. Similarly, if a surgeon finds that an appendix in the body is causing problems during the surgery and informs the patient that the appendix is going to be removed, in this case the doctor is not responsible for the battery as the consent of the patient was given.

No Lawful Justification
In the battery case, there must be no legal justification for the accused’s actions. The complainant must prove that the use of force by the accused is unlawful and unjustified.

For instance, if A and B are walking next to each other and suddenly B starts arguing with A, then B is guilty of battery. In contrast, if they were passing each other and an unintentional touch occurred without causing any harm, then there is no battery. Therefore, unintentional damage or damage by accident is not actionable.

There are certain defenses given to the accused to prevent themselves from wrongful accusation:

Self Defense
Self-Defense is the most common defense which is used in assault and battery cases. It means to protect yourself from unlawful force implied by other people. In this defense, it is proved that the defendant was safeguarding himself from the unlawful force of the complainant. But in this case, the defendant must prove that he did not provoke the other person and there was absolutely no other way to save himself.

For example, A started a fight with B, in his defense B attacked A with a stick and ran away, in this situation B is not liable for the battery as the attack was justified and was in self-defense.

There are many limitations to the doctrine of self-defense, as the force used in the name of self-defense must be reasonable and proportional to the threat compared to the victim. You cannot do anything in the name of self-defense, as there are limitations to the defense. And the defendant has to meet all the essentials to use the defense of self-defense.

• Essentials of self-defense are:
• The threat of unlawful for or damages.
• Reasonable fear of harm.
• No provocation by the accused.
• No other way to save himself.

Defense of Others
This defense is similar to self-defense, as in this defense the defendant is trying to save another individual, not himself. In this defense, there must be an honest and reasonable fear of harm to another person.

Defense of Property
This defense is also very similar to self-defense, as in this defense the defendant is trying to protect his property, but the force used is only considered when there is an unlawful use of force against the defendant. The defense is only valid when there is an honest and reasonable fear of harm to the person’s property. So, in cases of disputes over personal property, the owner can use force to take his property back.

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