What is a tort?
Produced in partnership with Sri Carmichael of Hardwicke Chambers
What is a tort?

The following Dispute Resolution practice note Produced in partnership with Sri Carmichael of Hardwicke Chambers provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • What is a tort?
  • What is tort law?
  • What are the differences between tort and contract?
  • What are the differences between tort and crime?
  • What is the aim of tort law?
  • How did tort law evolve?
  • What and who does tort law protect?
  • Tort for the protection of personal interests
  • Bodily integrity and personal liberty
  • Physical security from injury
  • More...

This practice note provides an introduction to tort law by addressing three questions:

  1. what does the concept of being liable in tort mean? And how does tort relate to contract and criminal law

  2. how has the law of tort developed?

  3. what is the scope of tort, ie what interests does it protect? What conduct does it allow or punish? What impact has the Human Rights Act 1998 had on tort law, particularly calls for a general tort of privacy?

What is tort law?

The word 'tort' comes indirectly from the Latin term ‘tortus’, which means crooked or twisted—in other words, wrong.

It therefore makes sense that a ‘tort’ is a civil wrong that occurs where someone unfairly causes another person to suffer loss or harm.

A person committing a tort is legally liable to the party injured, who is provided with a remedy in law, such as monetary damages or an injunction to compel or prevent certain conduct. An injured party who decides to pursue the matter in court is known as the claimant, and the person alleged to be responsible for the damage is the defendant or tortfeasor.

The most common form of tort law is that of negligence.

Whatever the tort (with the exception of trespass to land and defamation where a claimant does not need to prove loss), to establish tortious liability, the claimant must satisfy the

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