General Defences under Law of Tort


There are various cases brought against the defendant parties for the costs of a tort and every one the weather that is essential of the incorrect done by the defendant, He would be held chargeable for the incorrect that has been accrued. Therefore in some cases, the defendant can avoid liability by taking the plea of the defences available under law of torts.

There would be some defences that are particularly associated with various offences, there’s mainly just in case of defamation, the defences available are under the justification, comment and privileges, etc.

General defences are considered a collection of defences or excuses that the defendant undertakes to flee liability charged, but if the action has undergone a selected set of conditions that deals with the defences under the law of tort.

Meaning of General Defences

There are some specific defences available under the law of tort, just like the defences of privileges, action on defamation, fair justification and comment are available. Where the overall defence of consent could also be taken, whether the action is for defamation, internment, trespass, or other wrongs.

The general defences are Volenti non-fit injuria, defence of consent, catastrophe, Private defence, Plaintiff, the wrongdoer, Act of God, Mistake, Statutory Authority, Necessity.

Volenti Non-Fit Injuria

When the plaintiff voluntarily suffers form some harm, then he has no remedy for the incorrect under the law of tort and not allowed to form a complaint about the identical. For example, once you invite your relatives to your house then you can not sue them on the costs of trespass, Doctors can’t be sued after the surgery done by them.

Negligence of the defendant

In order to avail of this defence, it’s necessary that the defendant shouldn’t be negligent. If the plaintiff consents to some risk then it’s presumed that the defendant won’t be liable.

For example, when someone consents to a surgical procedure and also the same becomes unsuccessful then the plaintiff has no right to file a suit but if the identical becomes unsuccessful thanks to the surgeon’s negligence then in such cases he is going to be entitled to say compensation.

In Slater v. Clay Cross Co. Ltd., the plaintiff suffered injuries thanks to the negligent behaviour of the defendant’s servant while she was walking along a tunnel which was owned by the defendants.

Limitations on the doctrine’s scope

The scope of the maxim volenti non-fit injuria has been curtailed within the following cases:

Rescue cases The Unfair Contract Terms Act, 1977, In these cases, whether or not the plaintiff has done something voluntarily but he can’t be met with the defence of ‘consent’ i.e. volenti non-fit injuria.

In Hyett v. Great Western Railway Co., the plaintiff got injured while saving the defendant’s cars from a fireplace which occurred because of negligence on the a part of the defendants.

Volenti non-fit injuria and negligent

Volenti non-fit injuria could be a complete defence but the defence of nonperformance came after the passing of the Law Reform (Contributory Negligence) Act, 1945. In neglect, the defendant’s liability is predicated on the proportion of fault within the matter. within the defence of negligence, both are liable – the defendant and also the plaintiff, which isn’t the case with volenti non-fit injuria. In volenti non fit injuria, the plaintiff knows the character and extent of danger which he encounters and just in case of nonperformance on the part of the plaintiff, he failed to understand any danger.

Plaintiff the wrongdoer

There is a proverb “Ex turpi causa non oritur actio” which says that “from an immoral cause, no action arises”. If the premise of the action by the plaintiff is an unlawful contract then he won’t achieve his actions and he cannot recover damages.

If a defendant asserts that the claimant himself is that the wrongdoer and isn’t entitled to the damages, then it doesn’t mean that the court will declare him free from the liability but he won’t be liable under this head.

In the case of Bird v. Holbrook, the plaintiff was entitled to recover damages suffered by him because of the spring-guns set by him in his garden with none notice for the identical.

Inevitable Accident

Accident means an unexpected injury and if the identical accident couldn’t are stopped or avoided in spite of taking all reasonable care and precautions on the part of the defendant, then we call it an unavoidable casualty. It is a decent defence because the defendant could show that the injury couldn’t be stopped even after taking all the precautions and there was no intent to harm the plaintiff.

In Stanley v. Powell, the defendant and also the plaintiff visited a pheasant shooting. The defendant fired at a pheasant but the bullet after getting reflected by an oak hit the plaintiff and he suffered serious injuries.

Act of God

Act of God is an honest defence under the law of torts. it’s also recognized as a sound defence within the rule of ‘Strict Liability’ within the case of Rylands v. Fletcher.

The defence of Act of God and calamity might look identical but they’re different. Act of God could be quite cataclysm within which the natural forces play their role and cause damage. for instance, heavy rainfall, storms, tides, etc.

Private Defence

The law has given permission to safeguard one’s life and property and for that, it’s allowed the employment of reasonable force to shield himself and his property. the employment of force is justified just for the aim of self-defence.  There should be an imminent threat to a person’s life or property.


This article is to stress the important role played by General Defences in avoiding one’s liability in torts.

While learning about tort it is necessary to learn about General Defences in the law of Tort. General defences are a set of ‘excuses’ that you can undertake to escape liability.

This article is authored by Somesh Saxena, Fourth-Year, BBA. LL.B student at Rama University

Also Read – Defences Against Defamation

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