It is often seen that one wants to protect one’s body and property, whether movable or immovable. People usually seem anxious as to their person or property being vulnerable to negative elements, who are willing to misappropriate and exploit their wealth with a Mala Fide intention. This apprehension of large sections is what is required to be dealt with the iron hands of the law.

The law takes care of the acts which are to be recuperated with compensation or punishment. These acts can lie from a mere intentional touch to one’s person with an evil intention of intrusion into one’s property without assigning any reason for the action.

The law is often applied and has evolved to strike a delicate balance between the private rights to the exclusion of others and the socially valuable public and private interests that are sometimes served by permitting unauthorized instances of access. Therefore, it becomes extremely necessary to identify the precise problem and its solution.

Public interest often trumps the private interest and is widely recognized by law to be the distinctive exception to the owner’s “Right to exclude.” Trespass is a varied topic involving both civil and criminal elements. What distinguishes criminal trespass from civil trespass is that in the former, the entry should be with intent to commit an offence or to intimidate, insult or annoy the person in possession of the property.

Trespass is both a civil and criminal wrong because it can cause injury, i.e., violation of legal rights as well as damage to one’s person and property substantially if a physical attack takes place.

Trespass law is commonly presented as a relatively straightforward doctrine that protects landowners against intrusions by opportunistic trespassers

Meaning and Interpretation

Trespass can be said to be an action exceeding the limit carved by the law. It is an intentionally directed, unreasonable interference with one’s person and property. The word ‘intention’ here implies committing the wrong voluntarily. Trespass allegation can be leveled if the interference is with one’s and third person’s body and private property. It is to be kept in mind that intention forms the essential component of trespass. Unreasonable behavior is triggered by the mala Fides and ulterior intention to harass another.

Types of Trespass:

Trespass Against Person:

It is the causing of apprehension of unreasonable interference with one’s person and body as well as a third person and includes usage of force causing damage and impairment in the body. The trespasser, with an ulterior intention, transgresses the right of another and makes an alteration in it with the objective to cause wrongful loss or wrongful gain as the case may be. It is considered as intentional even if the wrongdoer did not know that the property belonged to another.

Trespass Against Property

Trespass against movable property like goods:

It is the taking wrongfully or forcefully interfering with the goods of another. It differs from trespass to land in one important aspect that wrongful intention or negligence is not necessary for trespass to goods. A challenge to ownership of goods amounts to conversion which is different from trespass to goods, which can be elucidated by an example of the damage of goods given by the plaintiff in a cloak room of railways but personnel there instead of giving it, threw it and damaged it.

Trespass against immovable property like land:

Legal maxim ‘Quare clausum fregit’ defines land as, “Land includes not only the surface and any buildings on it but also the airspace and subsoil, in so far as these are vested on the plaintiff. The action of trespass to land penalizing direct interference with other people’s land.”


Trespass can be faced by people innumerable times in a day, but what is important is to truly understand the nature of trespassed act, property, loss and impact of it on the plaintiff. If the nature of the act is itself suggestive of a wrongful incident, voluntarily undertaken to constrain the enjoyment of the right to exclude from the private property, then evaluation of all possible recourses to recoup the damage should be identified. The four tests[18], when deciding trespass disputes, courts should evaluate the following factors: (1) the nature and character of the trespass; (2) the nature of the protected property; (3) the amount and substantiality of the trespass; and (4) the impact of the trespass on the owner’s property interest.

It would help to uncover various facets and understand the dimensions that trespass law is clutching in its circuitous surrounding so as to loosen the screws and solve cases and situations in an efficacious manner. The true meaning of each term needs to be understood to evaluate trespass and resolve the cases by applying the relevant doctrines.

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