False imprisonment
Produced in partnership with

The following PI & Clinical Negligence practice note produced in partnership with provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • False imprisonment
  • Liability
  • Vicarious Liability
  • Limitation
  • Causes of action
  • Procedure
  • Damages
  • Related claims

False imprisonment


False imprisonment consists of the complete deprivation of liberty without a lawful basis. Claims will in practice be made against a public body that exercises detention powers, usually a local police force, the Secretary of State for the Home Department or the Secretary of State for Justice. The detention in question may be by police, immigration authorities or prisons (where there has been a miscalculation of the sentence itself or the parole allowed, resulting in an unlawful period of detention).

The tort of false imprisonment is a strict liability tort.

It is actionable without proof of special damage. All that is necessary for the tort to arise is for a person to show that they were directly and intentionally deprived of their liberty, whereupon the burden shifts to the defendant to prove that the deprivation was lawful. Per Lord Bridge in R v Deputy Governor of Parkhurst Prison, Ex p Hague: 'The tort of false imprisonment has two ingredients: the fact of imprisonment and the absence of lawful authority to justify it.' In practice, therefore, claimants will typically put a defendant to proof on a range of matters and it will be for the defendant to show that each basis on which detention is said to be lawful is made out. The burden of proof is on the detainer.

An exception exists in the immigration context

Popular documents