Top 10 Landmark Judgements of Law of Torts

law of torts judgements
law of torts judgements



  1. Rylands v. FletcherIn this case, Fletcher was running a coal mine under a lease. On the neighboring land, Rylands erected a reservoir for storing water and after the construction of the reservoir even when it was partly filled with water, the vertical shafts gave way and burst downwards and flooded the old passages and also the plaintiffs mine, so that the mine could not be worked. The case was decided in 1868, for the first time laid down the rule of absolute liability, according to which plaintiff is not required to prove negligence, lack of care or wrongful intention on the part of the defendant for escape of something as a result of non natural use of land.


  1. Donoghue v. Stevenson

In this case, the appellant drank a bottle of ginger beer which was bought from a retailer by her friend which contained the decomposed body (the remains) of a snail. As the bottle was of dark opaque glass sealed with a metal cap so that its contents could not be a ascertained by inspection. The plaintiff brought an action against the manufacturer of the beer to recover damages which she suffered due to serious effects on her health. The House of Lords held that the manufacturer of the bottle was responsible for his negligence towards the plaintiff.


  1. Kasturilal Ralia Ram v. The State of Uttar Pradesh

In case the tortious act committed by the servant was in discharge of non-sovereign functions die State would be liable for the same. However, in order to exempt the State from liability it is further necessary that the statutory functions which are exercised by the Government servants were exercised by way of delegation of the sovereign power of the State.


  1. Bhim Singh v. State of J&K

The petitioner, an M.L.A. of Jammu & Kashmir Assembly, was wrongfully detained by the police while he was going to attend the Assembly session. Thus, he was deprived of his fundamental right to personal liberty and constitutional right to attend the Assembly session. The court awarded exemplary damages of Rs. Fifty thousand by way of consequential relief


  1. Gloucester Grammar School Case

The defendant, a schoolmaster, set up a rival school to that of the plaintiff. Because of the competition, the plaintiff had to reduce their fees. Held, the plaintiff had no remedy for the loss suffered by them. Hanker J. said “Damnum may be absque injuria as if I have a mill and my neighbor builds another mill whereby the profits of my mill is diminished… but if a miller disturbs the water from going to my mill, or does any nuisance of the like sort, I shall have such action as the law gives.”

  1. Vaughan v. Taff Valde Rail Company

In this case sparks from an engine of the respondent’s Rail Company, set fire to the appellant’s woods on adjoining land. Held, that since the respondent had taken proper care to prevent the emission of sparks and they were doing nothing more than that the statute had authorised them to do, they were not liable.


  1. Rural Transport Service v. Bezlum Bibi

Here, a passenger bus was overloaded and yet the conductor invited passengers on the roof of the bus to travel. On its way, while overtaking a cart, the bus swerved, a passenger on the roof was struck by an overhanging branch of a tree, fell down and received multiple injuries and in the end’ succumbed to them. The act of conductor (of inviting the people of travel on the roof of the bus) and of the driver (act of leaving the metallic track by swerving on the right, close to the tree) was rash and negligent. The consequences of such an act, was therefore, foreseeable.


  1. Victorian Railway Commissioners v. Coultas

The case did not recognize injury caused by a shock sustained through the medium of eye or ear without direct contact. It was held in this case, an action for nervous shock was recognized in this case but with the limitation that the shock must arise from a reasonable fear of immediate personal injury to oneself.


  1. C. Balkrishna Menon v. T.R. Subramanian

The court held that the use of explosives in an open field on the occasion of festival is a “non-natural” use of land. If a person stores or marks explosive substances in an open field even on the occasion of celebration of some festival, that would amount to non-natural use of land.


  1. Ram Ghulam v. State of Uttar Pradesh

In this case, the police authorities recovered some stolen property and deposited the same in the Malkhana which was then stolen from the Malkhana. The Government of U.P. was held not liable by the Court for the same to the owner of the property as the Government servants were performing obligations which were imposed by law.



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