Remedies Available in the Law of Tort by Sesa Gill at LexCliq

There are two broad types of remedies in Tort Law: Judicial Remedies and Extra-Judicial Remedies

I. Judicial Remedies

As the term suggests, these are the remedies that the courts of law provide to an aggrieved party. Judicial remedies are of three main types:

1.Damages

Damages, or legal damages is the amount of money paid to the aggrieved party to bring them back to the position in which they were before the tort had occurred. They are paid to a plaintiff to help them recover the loss they have suffered. Damages are the primary remedy in a cause of action for torts. The word “damages” should not be confused with the plural of the word “damage”, that generally means ‘harm’ or ‘injury’.

Types of damages

  1. Nominal– Nominal damages are awarded when plaintiff’s legal right is infringed, but no real loss has been caused to him. For example, in cases of trespass, when damage has not been caused, a legal right is still infringed. Here, the objective is not to compensate the plaintiff.
  2. Substantial-Substantial damages are said to be awarded when the plaintiff is compensated for the exact loss suffered by him due to the tort.
  3. Exemplary/Punitive– These are the highest in amount. Punitive damages are awarded when the defendant has excessively been ignorant of the plaintiff’s rights and great damage has been caused to the defendant. The objective here is to create a public example and make people cautious of not repeating something similar.

2. Injunction

Injunction is an equitable remedy available in torts, granted at the discretion of the court. An injunction is  an order of a court that restrains a person from continuing the commission of a wrongful act, or orders the person to commit a positive act to reverse the results of the wrongful act committed by him, that is, to make good what he has wrongly done. To receive injunction against a party one must prove damage or the possibility of prospective damage (apprehended damage). An injunction can be temporary or permanent,

II. Extra-Judicial Remedies

On the other hand, if the injured party takes the law in their own hand (albeit lawfully), the remedies are called extra-judicial remedies. These are of five main types:

1.Expulsion of trespasser

A person can use a reasonable amount of force to expel a trespasser from his property. The two requirements are:

  • The person should be entitled to immediate possession of his property.
  • The force used by the owner should be reasonable according to the circumstances.

Illustration: A trespasses into B’s property. B has the right to use reasonable force to remove him from his property and re-enter himself.

2.Re-entry on land

The owner of a property can removes the trespasser and re-enter his property, again by using a reasonable amount of force only.

3.Re-caption of goods

The owner of goods is entitled to recapture his/her goods from any person whose unlawful possession they are in. Re-caption of goods is different from specific restitution in that it is an extra-judicial remedy, in which the person need not ask the court for assistance, instead, takes the law in his own hands.

Illustration: If A wrongfully acquires the possession of B’s goods, B is entitled to use reasonable force to get them back from A.

4.Abatement

In case of nuisance, be it private or public, a person (the injured party) is entitled to remove the object causing nuisance.

Illustration: A and B are neighbours. Branches of a tree growing on A’s plot enter B’s apartment from over the wall. After giving due notice to A, B can himself cut or remove the branches if they are causing him nuisance.

5.Distress

Damage Feasant Where a person’s cattle/other beasts move to another’s property and spoil his crops, the owner of the property is entitled to take possession of the beasts until he is compensated for the loss suffered by him.

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