Tort is Civil Wrong, in other word a tort, in common law jurisdictions, is a civil wrong that unfairly causes someone else to suffer loss or harm resulting in legal liability for the person who commits the tortious act, called a tortfeasor.
Tort is a civil wrong but all civil wrongs do not come within the ambit of tort. There are other kind of civil wrongs also, like breach of contract, breach of trust. So whenever a civil wrong is there we must see, whether the wrong is covered by any specific law, if not then it would be covered by law of torts. Where a single action of the wrongdoer results in two or more torts, as well as covered under any of the specific law, provided for recognized category of civil wrong, the victim can get redress either under torts or claim under any other specific law provided therein. It is notable that claimant can not claim twice under different branch of law, if cause of action is a single civil wrong.
The main characteristics of tort are:
1. Civil Wrong:
Tort is a civil wrong in the sense that it is a wrong against the person and not the society at large. However tort is different from other civil wrongs such as breach ofcontract or breach of trust. Remedy under law of torts is based on common law and not on any specific statue. In case wrongful act of a person results in tort as well as criminal wrongs then both remedies would be available to the victim.
2. Infringement of a legal right:
It is essential that there should be a violation of a legally protected right. Social and moral wrongs do not constitute a tort. Thus if there is a violation of legally protected right then the aggrieved party can put the legal machinery in motion to claim compensation from the wrong doer.
Remedy is the gist of tort and it is available in the form of unliquidated damages. Except that it’s remedy in the form of injunction and restitution is also available in suitable cases.
Difference between tort and crime:
The wrongs are divisible into two sorts or species, private wrongs and public wrongs. The former are an infringement or deprivation of the private or civil right belonging to individuals, considered as individual and are thereupon termed civil injuries. The later are breach and violation of public rights and duties which affect the whole community therefore harsh action is provided against wrongdoer.
Since tortuous wrong is a civil wrong therefore aggrieved person himself files the case against the wrongdoer. However in case of criminal Offence State prosecutes the accused. As far as the remedy is concerned, in tort, wrongdoer compensates the victim by paying him damages for the loss suffered due to violation of his legal right.
While, in criminal wrongs, wrongdoer is punished by the state. Mostly it consists of corporeal punishment against the accused. But in some exceptional cases as provided U/S 357, Cr. PC 1973, a criminal court may also direct the accused to pay compensation to the aggrieved parties in suitable cases.
Similarly, in civil law also, detention may be made out as in case of execution of decree under the Civil Procedure Code. As for example, if a person disobeys an injunction of the court, he may be punished with imprisonment in civil proceedings.
Sometimes a single act may result in tort as well as in crime. Under these circumstances, remedies are available concurrently. The wrongdoer may be held punishable for criminal wrong and may also be ordered to pay compensation.
Example of Tort: Nuisance, Negligence etc..
Example of Crime: Murder, Rape etc..