BLT2614 Law of Torts I Introduction

Dr. Dennis W. K. Khong June 2012



1. Norchaya Talib. (2010). Law of Torts in Malaysia, 3rd ed. Kuala Lumpur: Sweet & Maxwell Asia. 2. Rogers, W.V.H. (2010). Winfield and Jolowicz on Tort, 18th ed. London: Sweet & Maxwell.



3. Civil Law Act 1956 4. Defamation Act 1957


Texts to Read

5. Norchaya. chap. 1. 6. Winfield and Jolowicz, chaps. 1–3.


The Scope of Tort Law

7. Tort is a civil matter. 8. The features of a tort are: (a) there must be a wrongful or unauthorised act or omission; and (b) that wrongful or unauthorised act or omission affects the interests or rights of others; and (c) the injured party or victim has a right to claim for damages. 1

10. (c) in Sarawak. in the Defamation Act 1957. apply the common law of England and the rules of equity. The source of law of torts in Malaysia is section 3(1) of the Civil Law Act 1956: Save so far as other provision has been made or may hereafter be made by any written law in force in Malaysia. (b) in Sabah. in contract. the relationship and duties of parties are defined by tort law. the Court shall— (a) in Peninsular Malaysia or any part thereof. 11. • Restitution: Restitution can be described as a legal theory for preventing an unjust enrichment of the defendant at the expense of the plaintiff. • Trusts: To enforce a trust against another. together with statutes of general application. there must exist a special relationship of trust. Also. as administered or in force in England on 12 December 1949. 12. is applicable to the public at large. the principle for remedies in tort is restitutio in integrum. Even so. Ownership rights in property is largely governed by tort law. apply the common law of England and the rules of equity. English common law principles are applied when interpreting the Defamation Act. It is not necessarily compensatory in nature. The duty owed in tort. apply the common law of England and the rules of equity as administered in England on the 7 April 1956. as administered or in force in England on 1 December 1951. Tort is to be distinguished from other branches of the law: • Contract: In tort. while the principle for remedies in contract is to compensate the non-defaulting party such that as if the contract has been performed. The only branch of tort law which has been codified in Malaysia is the law of defamation. • Property law: There is no separate body of law in English common law called property law. subject however to subparagraph 3(ii). The exception is with regards to real property and chose in action. however.9. Topics covered in BLT2614 Law of Torts I are: (a) Negligence (b) Occupiers’ liability (c) Trespass to person (d) Trespass to land (e) Trespass to goods (f) Defamation 2 . together with statues of general application. the duties are defined principally by the contract. rules of equity and statutes of general application shall be applied so far as the circumstances of the States of Malaysia and their respective inhabitants permit and subject to such qualifications as local circumstances render necessary. Provided always that the said common law.

as an objective test is used to determine liability. or does not do something that is required (an omission).2 Intention 17. 3 . we will cover: • Nuisance • The rule in Rylands v.3 Motive and malice 19. Malice. tort law plays the following functions: (a) Compensation (b) Prevention of continuous harm. This redress most commonly takes the form of damages. Fletchter • Breach of statutory duty • Liability for false statements • Product liability • Interference with contract or business • Malicious prosecution • Vicarious liability • Remedies 14. Intention is relevant in all intentional torts: trespass to person. trespass to land. by the law. 18. monetary compensation. conspiracy and defamation. 5. 5. may be relevant in the tort of nuisance. evil or improper motive. trespass to goods and defamation. Motive generally is irrelevant in tort liability. Liability in tort arises when a person does something that is not allowed (an act).1 Important Concepts in Tort Law Tortious Liability 16. 15. Intention is not relevant in negligence. by way of an injunction (c) Deterring unreasonable or undesirable behaviour. The function of tort law is said to be as such: The law of torts is concerned with the redress of wrongs or injuries (other than breaches of contract) by means of a civil action brought by the victim. In BLT2624 Law of Torts II. 20. that is to say. 5 5.e. More specifically. i.13.

studying law at MMU is a very intense and time-pressured endeavour. strict liability and defamation require proof of damage or harm before the defendant is held liable. (ii) Liquidated damages: Specific damage the plaintiff has suffered. 31. 28. (iv) economic loss. where the defendant is the Government of Malaysia. Torts such as negligence.5. 29.g. Failure to do so will render the plaintiff’s action unsuccessful.g. Damages fall into two broad categories: (i) Unliquidated damages: Unquantifieable damage which includes general damages for pain and suffering. 7 Administrative Advice to Students 30. A tort is actionable per se when proof of damage is not required. loss of earnings and medical bills. A plaintiff needs to commence his action within the limitation period prescribed by the Limitation Act 1953. As such. for intentional torts such as trespass to person. please read the actual cases. Therefore. Damage or harm may be one or more for four kinds: (i) physical injury. No all form of damage or harm are actionable in tort. every minute of your wakeful time is valuable. e. nuisance. trespass to land and trespass to goods. (iii) damage to reputation. Given the high number of courses taken in each trimester. Section 6(1)(a) of the Limitation Act 1953 provides for a general limitation of six years for an action in tort. e. 5. 4 . 6 Limitation 27.4 Damage 21. 24. 23. Damages is the monetary compensation that the defendant has to pay to the plaintiff. 22. (ii) damage to property. The beauty of tort law can only be properly appreciated by reading the actual cases. 26. section 2(a) of the Public Authorities Protection Act 1948 provides a limitation period of three years.5 Damages 25. However.

To fully benefit from my tutorials. you can have lots of documents to read on the go between classes or while waiting for your lecture or tutorial to start.32. 34. and I do not intend to deliver one. Keep your attendance perfect. i.e. Since time is very limited. 35. 5 . or a netbook (do check them out first to see which suits you best). Also. I will not hesitate to bar students with a poor attendance record from taking the final exam. I expect all students to read the relevant chapters and the cases before coming to class. Whether you get an ‘A’ or a ‘B’ might ultimately depend on your 10% class participation marks. That way. I would like to offer two two time-saving suggests that you can consider taking: (a) By a portable doc/pdf reading device. Read the tutorial questions before hand and prepare a draft answer. either an iPad or an Android tablet. 33. a dedicated ebook reader such as Sony’s PRS. My tutorials are not mini-lectures. (b) Work in groups and share the downloaded cases among yourselves.