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Trespass to the Person

Trespass to the Person

Trespass to the person is a direct and physical interference with someone else’s body which cannot be justified. The claimant does not have to show that he actually suffered any injury as a result of the trespass to bring a claim.

The three types of trespass to person are:

Assault - This is an action which causes the claimant to fear that he is about to suffer physical violence, e.g. threatening to hit him. There must be some movement by the defendant; standing still is not enough, and the defendant must intend to frighten the claimant.

Battery - This is a direct and intentional application of physical force to the claimant which may or may not be forceful enough to cause injury. The defendant must intend to make physical contact, but he does not have to have any hostile intention, e.g. kissing someone without their consent is a battery.

False Imprisonment - This is preventing someone from exercising freedom of movement. It can be by locking someone in a room, wrongfully arresting someone, or preventing a person walking in the direction he wants to go in provided there is no reasonable alternative route.

Defences which particularly apply to trespass to person are:

Consent - where the claimant gives genuine consent to the trespass and, in the case of serious injury, the trespass served a socially useful purpose;

Self-defence - the use of reasonable force to protect person or property;

Necessity - acting to prevent further harm, e.g. a doctor treating an unconscious patient in an emergency to save their life;

Lawful Arrest - a person carrying out an arrest can use reasonable force and can go onto land without permission.


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