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Necessity as a Defence under Law of Torts | Civil Law for Judiciary Exams PDF Download

Introduction and Definition of Necessity

  • Necessity, as per the Oxford English Dictionary, refers to something essential or required.
  • In legal contexts, it serves as a defense allowing individuals to justify their actions in court.
  • The concept of necessity is applicable in various legal domains, such as criminal and civil law, with applications differing based on the severity of the offense.
  • Specifically, this discussion focuses on necessity within tort law.

Application of Necessity in Law

  • Necessity is often used as a defense against trespass, provided the action is for the greater good or public interest.
  • Actions undertaken under necessity should primarily benefit the public rather than serving private interests.
  • An individual may invoke the defense of necessity when using reasonable force to prevent imminent harm for public interest.

Examples Illustrating the Doctrine of Necessity

  • Leigh v. Gladstone: In this case, a woman was forcibly fed while on a hunger strike in prison. The defendant successfully utilized the necessity defense against the charge of battery.
  • Cope v. Sharpe: Here, the defendant entered the plaintiff's property to prevent a fire from spreading to adjacent land. The defense of necessity was valid as the action aimed to avert imminent danger.

Question for Necessity as a Defence under Law of Torts
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In which legal context can the defense of necessity be used?
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Difference between Self-Defence and Necessity under Law of Torts

  • Self-defence and necessity, while appearing similar, diverge significantly in legal contexts.
  • When invoking necessity, an individual may harm an innocent party unintentionally, as seen in the case of Ploof v. Putnam.
  • In Ploof v. Putnam, Ploof tied his boat to Putnam's dock to escape a storm; Putnam's servant untied the boat, causing damage and injury. The court ruled in favor of Ploof, citing necessity in trespass situations.
  • Unlike self-defence, where the defender intentionally harms a wrongdoer, necessity involves actions taken out of immediate need, not malice.
  • In People v. La Voie, a person shot another in what was deemed self-defence by the Colorado court due to perceived imminent danger.
  • Necessity typically requires less force than self-defence, often considered the "lesser of the two evils."

Contrast between Inevitable Accident and Necessity under Law of Torts

  • Explanation of Inevitable Accident and Necessity: While both inevitable accident and necessity serve as defenses in law, they differ in crucial aspects.
  • Intentional Harm vs. Unintentional Harm: In necessity, the harm caused is intentional, whereas in inevitable accident, harm occurs despite efforts to prevent it.
  • Illustrative Example - Stanley v. Powell: In the case of Stanley v. Powell, where individuals were engaged in a pheasant shooting activity, an accidental injury occurred when a bullet ricocheted off a tree and harmed another member.
  • Legal Outcome: The court ruled it as an accident, absolving the shooter of liability due to the unforeseeable nature of the incident.
  • Requirement for Defenses: In both defenses, the innocence of the harmed party and the presence of intention by the harming party are significant factors.

Necessity's Relation to Medicine

  • The relationship between necessity and medicine is a crucial topic frequently discussed by scholars.
  • Courts have clarified that in cases where medical treatment is given to an incapacitated individual whose capacity is in question, the defense of necessity can be invoked if a trespass action is taken against the doctor.
  • In the legal case of Re A (Children) (Conjoined Twins: Surgical Separation), it was deemed necessary to separate Siamese Twins even if it meant the weaker twin might not survive. This decision was made to prevent the death of both twins if they remained conjoined. The principle of necessity was upheld in this criminal case, indicating that a similar defense would be applicable in civil law scenarios.

Conclusion to Necessity under Law of Torts

  • The presence of Necessity as a defense in the realm of Torts law holds significant importance. Without this defense, individuals who find themselves compelled to commit a wrongful act might unjustly bear liability. It safeguards the innocent from being penalized for actions they were coerced into and had no alternative means to avoid.
  • If the concept of necessity is disregarded, the legal system would merely be a rigid set of rules to be mechanically adhered to. However, embracing defenses like necessity upholds the primary role of courts—to dispense justice on a case-by-case basis.
  • Defenses such as necessity serve to underline the fundamental purpose of legal institutions, ensuring that justice is served in specific circumstances.

Question for Necessity as a Defence under Law of Torts
Try yourself:
What is the main difference between self-defence and necessity under the law of torts?
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FAQs on Necessity as a Defence under Law of Torts - Civil Law for Judiciary Exams

1. What is the difference between Self-Defence and Necessity under the Law of Torts?
Ans. Self-Defence is a legal defense that allows individuals to use reasonable force to protect themselves from harm. Necessity, on the other hand, is a defense that allows individuals to break the law in order to prevent a greater harm from occurring.
2. How do Inevitable Accident and Necessity differ under the Law of Torts?
Ans. Inevitable Accident refers to an unforeseeable event that causes harm, while Necessity involves breaking the law to prevent a greater harm from occurring. Inevitable Accident is not a defense under the Law of Torts, while Necessity can be used as a defense in certain circumstances.
3. What is the relationship between Necessity and Medicine in the context of the Law of Torts?
Ans. In the context of the Law of Torts, Necessity can apply to situations in which a medical professional must act quickly to save a patient's life, even if it means breaking a law or standard medical procedure. Necessity can be used as a defense in medical malpractice cases where the doctor's actions were necessary to prevent harm.
4. How does Necessity function as a Defense under the Law of Torts?
Ans. Necessity is a defense under the Law of Torts that allows individuals to break the law in order to prevent a greater harm from occurring. In order to successfully use the defense of Necessity, the harm prevented must outweigh the harm caused by breaking the law.
5. Can you provide a summary of the Law Notes related to Necessity under the Law of Torts?
Ans. Necessity is a defense under the Law of Torts that allows individuals to break the law in order to prevent a greater harm from occurring. It is important to establish that the harm prevented outweighs the harm caused by breaking the law in order to successfully use the defense of Necessity.
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