When a plaintiff brings an action against a defendant for a particular tort providing existing of all essential of that tort, the defendant would be held liable for that.
But some privileges are also available for the defendant to defend so they can escape his liability. These defenses are:-
• Volenti non fit injuria
• Inevitable accident
• Plaintiff’s default
• Act of god
• Private defence
• Mistake
• Necessity
• Statutory authority

To the volunteer, no injury is done – this implies that the complainant has relinquished their rights, rendering them unable to raise objections. Consequently, an individual who willingly accepts potential harm is barred from making complaints, as their consent serves as a robust defense against self-inflicted harm. This is because harm endured voluntarily does not qualify as a legal injury. Enforcing a right that one has consciously waived or forsaken is impermissible.
For example in paragliding, participants are required to sign a form indicating their consent to assume full responsibility for any potential harm or injury that may occur during the activity. This document absolves any party from liability in the event of injury.
Essentials of volenti fit injuria-

A. Consent could be express or implied-
In Hall vs. Brooklands Auto Racing Club, the plaintiff attended a motor car race at Brooklands, conducted on a track owned by the defendant company. A collision occurred between two cars during the race, leading to one of the cars being thrown into the spectators and causing injury to the plaintiff. The court determined that the plaintiff had implicitly accepted the risk of such injury, as the danger was inherent in the sport and foreseeable to any spectator. Consequently, the defendant was not held liable.
In Padmavati vs. Dugganaika, while the driver was taking the jeep for filling petrol in the tank, two strangers took lift in the jeep. Suddenly one of the bolts fixing the right front wheel to the axle gave way toppling the jeep. The two strangers were thrown out and sustained injuries, and one of them died as a consequence of the same. It was held that neither the driver nor his master could be made liable, firstly, because it was a case of sheer accident and, secondly, the strangers had voluntarily got into the jeep and as such, the principle of volenti non fit injuria was applicable to this case.

B. Consent should not have been given on the basis of a fraud or under any compulsion
In R. vs. Williams, the accused was held guilty of rape when he had sexual intercourse with a minor girl on pretext of an operation to improve her voice. In this case, the victim didn’t consent to rape but she consented for a surgical operation. This was a case of consent obtained by fraud, which is no consent in the eyes of law. Hence maxim was held inapplicable.

C. No liability only for the consented act-
There will be no defence present for the consented act but when a person is incapable of giving his consent because of his insanity or minority, consent of such person’s parent or guardian is sufficient.
In Laxmi Rajan vs. Malar Hospital Ltd., the plaintiff is a married woman, aged 40 years, noticed development of painful lump in her breast. The lump had no effect on utereus but during surgery, her uterus was removed without any justification. It was held that the patients’s consent for operation did not imply her consent to removal of uterus.

D. Scienti no fit injuria- mere knowledge of risk is not equal to the consent of risk.
In Smith vs. Baker, the plaintiff was a workman employed by the defendants on working a drill for the purpose of cutting a rock. By the help of a crane, stones were being conveyed from one side to the other, and each time when the stones were conveyed, the crane passed from over the plaintiff’s head. While he was busy in his work, a stone fell from the crane and injured him. The employers were negligent in not warning him at the moment of a recurring danger, although the plaintiff had been generally aware of the risk. It was held by the House of Lords that as there was mere knowledge of risk without the assumption of it, the maxim volenti non fit injuria did not apply, and the defendants were liable
Exception to the Volenti no fit Injuria
Rescue cases-
The doctrine of assumption of risk does not apply where the plaintiff has, under an exigency caused by the defendant’s wrongful misconduct, consciously & deliberately faced a risk, even of death, to rescue another from an imminent danger of personal injury or death, whether the person in danger is one to whom he owes a duty of protection or is a mere stranger to whom he owes no such special duty.
In Haynes vs. Harwood, the defendant’s servant left a two-horse van unattended in a crowded street. The horses attached with the van ran away. The plaintiff, a policeman was on duty, not in the street, but in a police station. He saw that a woman and many children were in grave danger of being run over by these run-away horses. He rushed out of the Police Station and eventually stopped the horses. In doing so he was injured. It being a ‘rescue case’, the defence of ‘volenti non fit injuria’ was not accepted and the defendants were held liable.

An inevitable accident is one in which no human foresight could have prevented, an accident which could not have been prevented by the exercise of reasonable care on the part of the defendant. Inevitable accident, is a defence in which the burden of proof is on the defendant to show that what happened was an unforeseeable accident.
In Stanley vs. Powell, a case of trespass to the person, the defendant successfully pleaded inevitable accident when he accidentally shot the plaintiff. A pellet from his gun, when he was shooting pheasants, ricochetted off a tree at an unusual angle, and injured the plaintiff. It was held that injury was accidental and defendant was not liable.
In Nitro Glycerine case, the defendant, a firm of carriers, were given a wooden case for being carried from one place to another. The contents of the box were not known to the delivery person. Finding some leakage in the box, the defendants took the box to their office building to examine it. While the box was being opened, the Nitro-Glycerine in the box exploded and the office building, belonging to the plaintiff, was damaged. It was held that since the defendants could not reasonably suspect that the box congtained Nitro-glycerine, they were not liable for any damage caused by the accident.

As a plaintiff giving consent to suffer harm cannot recover, so where he is the originator of his own wrong or where the injury is caused by his own default it may be useful for other defences to emerge, that a plaintiff cannot profit by his own wrong, or that he had consented or that it was his contributory negligence.
‘Ex turpi causa non oritur actio’ which means from an immoral cause no action arises.
In Bird vs. Haldbrook, the plaintiff, a trespasser over the defedant’s land was entitled to calim compemsation for injury caused by a sprong gun set by the defendant without any notice, in his garden.
4) Act of God
‘Vis Major’ is latin term which means the superior force.
An act of God in common parlance means any act of nature. But in law it means an unprecedented or extra ordinary act in nature which can not reasonably be anticipated.
To avail the benefit of this defence, two important essentials are required to be proved.
(1) There must be working of natural forces.
(2) The occurrence must be extraordinary and not one which could be anticipated and reasonably guarded against.
In Nichols vs. Marsland, the defendant created some artificial lakes on his land by damming some natural streams. Once there was an extraordinarily heavy rainfall, stated to be heaviest in human memory, as a result of which the embankments of the lakes gave way. The rush of water washed away four bridges belonging to plaintiff. It was held that defendants were not liable as the loss had occurred due to act of God.

Every man has a right to defend his person or property from unlawful harm done by another. But the force used in defence must not be out of proportion to the apparent urgency of the occasion. self-defence does not include the active assertion of disputed right. The principle of private defence extends to the killing of another’s animal if that is reasonably necessary in order to save one’s person or property from ‘real and imminent’ danger.
The Indian Penal Code 1860, in Section 96, provides as follows :
Nothing is an offence which is done in the exercise of the right of private defence. Nobody is bound to suffer harm on his person or property inflicted by unjustifiable acts of another and therefore he may defend
In the case of Ramanuja Mudali v. M. Gangan, the defendant was found responsible for injuries caused to the plaintiff who crossed their land at night without notice. The defendant had installed live wires on their property, and the court held them liable for the injuries, deeming the use of live wires unjustified.
In Collins v. Renison, the plaintiff was pushed off a ladder by the defendant while attempting to nail a board on the defendant’s garden wall. Despite the defendant’s argument that the force applied was gentle, the court, in this case, ruled that the use of force was not justifiable as a defense.

Mistake, whether of law or fact is usually no defence and cannot exempt one from liability in tort. However, mistake of fact does not impose penal liability. As provided by section 79 of the Indian Penal Code, “Nothing is an offences which is done by any person who is justified by law, or who by reason of a mistake of fact and not by reason of a mistake of law in good faith, believes himself to be justified by law in doing it.” The maxim ignorantia juris non excusat needs no explanation, as obviously mistake of law will not excuse.
There are some exceptions when the defendant may be able to avoid his liability by showing that he acted under an honest but mistaken belief.
In Biharilal Kunjilal vs. Angirabai, where in the holder of decree against X executed by the same upon the property belonging to X’s wife and wrongfully got the property attached, it was held that X’s wife could recover damages without proving either absence of reasonable or probable cause or malice in fact.

The defence of necessity may be used where a defendant has inflicted damage on an innocent Plaintiff in order to prevent some greater damage from ensuing.
The defence is based on a Latin maxim ‘salus populi suprema lex’- meaning, the good of the people is the supreme law. One must however remember that necessity which prompts a person to act must be existing, immediate and overwhelming public necessity.
To avail of this defence the following conditions must be fulfilled :
(1) There must exist a necessity, that is a state of affairs as compels a person to act.
(2) It must compel him to act immediately.
(3) He has to make a choice between an individual’s interest and the interest of society.
(4) The actor must act in good faith, honestly and reasonable.
(5) As is the emergency, so is his latitude for action
In Cope vs. Sharpe, the defence has been rejected in case of careless invasion of another’s interest as when A’s building is pulled down to save C’s building from fire. The logic is very plain here because no man has a right to protect his property at the cost of others. He has to be just before he becomes generous.
Necessity can be distinguished from self-defence. In the former a person damages another’s interest. The actor here is a wrongdoer, while in the latter the position is different. Necessity is an admixture of charity, public benefit, self-defence and an emergency.
Necessity can also be differentiated from inevitable accident. In necessity harm is done intentionally compared to inevitable accident where harm is caused in spite of all attempt to avoid it.

When a statute empowers the performance of an action that would otherwise constitute a tort, the injured party is limited to seeking redress as specified by the statute itself. The immunity granted through statutory authority extends not only to obvious harm but also to harm incidental to the exercise of such authority. For instance, in the construction of a railway line, there may be encroachment on private land. In such cases, legal action cannot be pursued for either the encroachment on land or the accompanying incidental harm, except to obtain compensation as outlined in the statute. This alignment is justified by the underlying principle that lesser individual rights must give way to greater public interest.
In Vaughan vs. Taff Vale Rail Co., sparks from an engine of the respondent’s railway company set fire to appellant’s wood on adjoining land. It was held that as respondents were neither negligent nor were doing anything more than what the statute had authorised them to do, they were not liable.
In the case of Hedge Smith vs. London and South Western Railway Co., the railway company’s employees negligently left grass trimmings near a railway line. Subsequently, sparks from an engine ignited the trimmings, and due to strong winds, the resulting fire reached the plaintiff’s cottage located 200 yards away from the railway line. The cottage suffered damage due to the fire, and the railway company was deemed liable for the incident, given that it resulted from their negligence.

Various defenses such as volenti non fit injuria, inevitable accident, plaintiff’s default, act of God, private defense, mistake, necessity, and statutory authority provide legal safeguards against liability in tort cases. These defenses acknowledge the need for flexibility in legal standards based on circumstances, emphasizing the delicate balance between individual rights and public interest in determining liability.

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