Tort and Crime
Historically tort had its roots in criminal procedure. Even today there is a punitive element in some aspects of the rules on damages. However tort is a species if civil injury or wrong. The distinction between civil and criminal wrongs depends on the nature of the remedy provided by law.
A civil wrong is one which gives rise to civil proceedings.
A civil proceeding concerns with the enforcement of some right claimed by the plaintiff as against the defendant whereas criminal proceedings have for their object the punishment of the defendant for some act of which he is accused. Sometimes the same wrong is capable of being made the subject of proceedings of both kinds.
For example assault, libel, theft, malicious injury to property etc. in such cases the wrong doer may be punished criminally and also compelled in a civil action to make compensation or restitution.
Not every civil wrong is a tort. A civil wrong may be labeled as a tort only where the appropriate remedy for it is an action for unliquidated damages.
Thus for example, public nuisance is not a tort merely because the civil remedy of injunction may be available at the suit of the attorney general, but only in those exceptional cases in which a private person may recover damages for loss sustained by him in consequence thereof.
However it has to be born in mind that a person is liable in tort irrespective of whether or not an action for damages has been given against him. The party is liable from the moment he commits the tort. Although an action fro damages is an essential mark of tort and its characteristic remedy, there may be and often other remedies also.
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