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Injuria sine damno in Tort

Injuria sine damno in Tort
Injuria sine damno in Tort


Injuria sine damno

Injuria sine damno refers to the violation of a legal right without causing any harm, loss, or damage to the plaintiff. Torts are classified into two types:

  1. Torts actionable per se, which do not require proof of any damage or loss for action. For instance, trespass to land is actionable even if no damage results from the trespass.

  2. Torts that are actionable only upon proof of some damage caused by an act.

Injuria sine damno covers cases where proving harm or loss due to the act is unnecessary. To succeed in such cases, the only requirement is to establish the violation of a legal right.


Ashby v. White

Ashby v. White is a seminal case illustrating injuria sine damno. In this instance, the plaintiff, a qualified voter, had his voting right wrongfully denied by the defendant, a returning officer. Despite no loss because the favoured candidate won, the defendant was held liable. 

Holt, C.J., emphasised that a right inherently includes the means to vindicate and maintain it and a remedy if injured. He stated, "Every injury imports a damage, though it does not cost the party one farthing."

He illustrated further that actions for personal injury, trespass, or any invasion of property are actionable even without direct financial loss because they infringe on personal rights or property.

Bhim Singh v. State of J. & K.

In Bhim Singh v. State of J. & K., an M.L.A. from J & K Assembly was wrongfully detained by police, preventing him from attending an Assembly session. This act deprived him of his constitutional right to participate in legislative duties and violated Article 21, guaranteeing personal liberty.

Although released by the time of the Supreme Court's decision, Bhim Singh was awarded exemplary damages of Rs. 50,000 as a consequence of this violation.

Determining Damages in Cases of Injuria Sine Damno

When a plaintiff suffers no harm but the wrongful act is actionable, the court must decide the compensation amount. Generally, nominal damages are awarded, potentially as little as five rupees, to affirm that no legal right violation goes unremedied.

However, if the court determines that the violation was due to a malicious act, as in Bhim Singh's case, exemplary damages may be granted. In this instance, the court awarded Rs. 50,000 for the wrongful detention aimed at preventing legislative participation.


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