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Damnum sine injuria in Torts

Damnum sine injuria in Torts
Damnum sine injuria in Torts


Damnum Sine Injuria

Damnum sine injuria is a legal maxim that refers to damage which is not coupled with an unauthorised interference with the plaintiff's lawful right.

Essentially, causing damage, however substantial, to another person is not actionable in law unless there is also a violation of a legal right of the plaintiff. This typically occurs when the exercise of a legal right by one party results in consequential harm to another.


Gloucester Grammar School Case

In this landmark case, a schoolmaster set up a competing school which led to the plaintiffs having to reduce their fees significantly. Despite the financial damage, it was ruled that they had no remedy since the competition was lawful, emphasising the principle that loss of profit due to lawful competition does not constitute actionable damage.

Mogul Steamship Co. v. McGregor Gow and Co.

Here, several steamship companies lawfully combined to drive a competitor out of the tea-carrying trade by offering reduced freight. The House of Lords held that the plaintiff had no cause of action as the defendants acted within their rights to protect and extend their trade.

Ushaben v. Bhagyalaxmi Chitra Mandir

The plaintiffs sought to stop the exhibition of a film that they claimed ridiculed and hurt their religious feelings. The court observed that hurt to religious feelings is not recognized as a legal wrong and dismissed the injunction request since the defendants were performing a lawful act.

Acton v. Blundell

In this case, the defendants' coalpit operations intercepted water flowing to the plaintiff’s well. The court held that they were not liable, asserting the right to utilise one's own land even if it causes inconvenience to others, classified under damnum sine injuria.

Chesmore v. Richards

This case involved a mill owner who lost water due to the defendants pumping water from their land. Despite the loss, the defendants were not liable as their use of their land was lawful and did not infringe any defined legal right of the plaintiff.

P. Seetharamayya v. Mahalakshmamma

The court held that landowners have the right to protect their property from flood damage by building barriers, even if it causes overflow and damage to neighbouring lands, thus applying the principle of damnum sine injuria.


Dickson v. Reuter’s Telegram Co.

The telegraph company was not held liable for damages caused by a negligently delivered telegram that led to a financial loss for the plaintiffs, as the company's duty was only to the sender of the telegram, not the unintended recipient.

Vishnu Datt v Board of H S. & Intermediate Education, U.P.

A student detained for shortage of attendance sued for losses due to an illegal detention. The court ruled against compensation as the detention, although found illegal, did not infringe a legal right covered under recognized common law heads.

Bradford Corporation (Mayor of) v Pickles

The House of Lords ruled that even if an act is done maliciously, no legal action can arise unless a legal right is violated. In this case, although the defendant's actions were motivated by spite, he was acting within his legal rights concerning land and water use.

Town Area Committee v. Prabhu Dayal

The demolition of illegally constructed shops was held not to constitute injuria despite allegations of malice, reinforcing that lawful actions taken in enforcement of regulation are not actionable regardless of the intent behind them.


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