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CHAPTER 10
INTRODUCTION TO TORT LAW
Objectives
After studying this chapter, you should have an understanding of
the broad scope of tort law
the differences between a civil action and a criminal action
the purpose of tort remedies
how business can manage its potential liability in tort

Learning Outcomes

Understand the difference between intentional torts and negligence (page 234)
Understand the difference between a civil action and a criminal action (page 224)
Understand the purpose of the damage award (page 228)
Understand the concept of vicarious liability (page 226)
Understand what is included in pecuniary and non-pecuniary damages (page 229)
Understand how a business can manage its tort risk (page 234)

Chapter Summary
Tort law has a significant impact on business enterprises, particularly in the area of
negligence. Tort law permits someone who has been injured or suffered a loss to sue the
responsible person for damages. The objective of a damages award is to compensate the
plaintiff, though punitive damages are sometimes available if the defendants conduct has
been particularly egregious. Aggravated damages are also available to compensate the person
who suffers intangible injuries, such as distress or humiliation, caused by the defendants
reprehensible conduct. Less commonly, the injured party will seek an injunction or other
form of equitable remedy, as in a trespass-to-land scenario. Criminal law also affects a
business, though to a lesser degree. As the purpose of a criminal law is to punish the
offenderthrough fines and imprisonmentdistinct procedures are in place to help ensure
that only guilty people are convicted. For example, in a criminal prosecution the Crown must
prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt. By way of contrast, the plaintiff in a tort action
need only demonstrate the case on the balance of probabilities. Liability in tort can be
primary or vicarious. Primary liability arises through personal wrongdoing. Vicarious
liability arises through the relationship a person has with the actual tort-feasor, as in an
employeremployee context. Since a business may have several employees, its exposure in
this area can be considerable. When a person is injured because of the tortious conduct of
more than one person, those culpable are known as joint tort-feasors. A court can apportion
liability between them, but the victim or plaintiff can recover 100 percent of the judgment
from any one of them. When a tort victim is at least partially responsible for his or her own
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injuries, the victim has been contributorily negligent. The amount that the plaintiff is
awarded will be reduced by the proportion for which he or she is responsible. Sometimes, the
same set of facts can give rise to liability in tort and in contract, particularly in the context of
a professional advice giver, such as a lawyer or an accountant. The best response a business
can have to its potential liability in tort is to establish a risk management plan that reduces,
eliminates, or transfers risk.

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Study Outline
Use this outline to prepare a complete set of notes for this chapter.
Tortpage 221
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
How Torts Are Categorized _______________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
Intentional tort_______________________________________________________
Assault_____________________________________________________________
Battery _____________________________________________________________
Negligence _________________________________________________________
Deceit or Fraud _________________________________________________________
Trespass to Land ________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
Tort Law and Criminal Lawpage 224
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
Purposes of the Actions __________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
Commencing the Actions _________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
Proving the Actions______________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
Liability in Tortpage 226
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
Primary and Vicarious Liability ____________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
Liability and Joint Tort-Feasors ____________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
Liability and Contributory Negligence _______________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
Joint Tort-Feasors _______________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
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Damages in Tortpage 228


______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
Purpose of Damages _____________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
Workers Compensation Legislation ________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
Non-Pecuniary Damages _________________________________________________
Pain and suffering ____________________________________________________
Loss of enjoyment of life ______________________________________________
Loss of life expectancy ________________________________________________
Pecuniary Damages______________________________________________________
Cost of future care____________________________________________________
Loss of future income _________________________________________________
Special damages _____________________________________________________
Punitive damages ____________________________________________________
Exemplary Damages _____________________________________________________
Aggravated Damages ____________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
Tort Law and Contractpage 232
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
Managing Tort Riskpage 232
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________

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SELF-ASSESSMENT
Key Terms
Briefly define each term in the space provided.
Tortpage 221
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
Trespass to landpage 221
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
Negligencepage 221
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
Deceit or fraudpage 221
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
Tort-feasorpage 222
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
Intentional tortpage 224
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
Assaultpage 224
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
Batterypage 224
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
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Vicarious liabilitypage 226


______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
Joint tort-feasorspage 227
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
Contributory negligencepage 228
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
Workers compensation legislationpage 228
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
Non-pecuniary damagespage 229
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
Pecuniary damagespage 229
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
Punitive damagespage 230
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
Aggravated damagespage 232
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________

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Matching
Match each term to its definition below by writing the correct letter in the space provided.
Some answers are used more than once.
A
B
C
D
E
F
G
H
1. ____

Intentional tort
Negligence
Contributory negligence
Vicarious liability
Joint tort-feasors
Balance of probabilities
Non-pecuniary losses
Pecuniary losses

The liability that an employer has for the tortious acts of an employee committed
in the ordinary course or scope of employment.

2. ____

Two or more persons whom a court has held to be jointly responsible for the
plaintiffs loss or injuries.
3. ____ A careless act that causes harm to another person.
4. ____ A harmful act that is committed on purpose.
5. ____ Proof that it is more likely than not that a tort took place.
6. ____ Compensation for cost of future care, loss of future income. and special damages
for out-of-pocket expenses.
7. ____ General damages for pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, and loss of life
expectancy.
8. ____ A passenger in a car was not wearing a seat belt at the time of a crash.
9. ____ A business failed to salt an icy walkway and a customer fell.
10. ____ A patron of a bar threatens and punches another patron.

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Questions
Write a short, point-form answer for each question in the space provided. To help you
understand the chapter, it is recommended that you also use additional paper to write a full
and complete essay answer for each question.
1. What has the Supreme Court of Canada identified as the function of tort law?
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
2. What type of behaviour does the tort of trespass to land address?
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
3. Does tort law automatically provide a remedy when someone has been physically or
economically injured? Explain.
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
4. On what basis does tort law seek to impose liability?
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
5. What impact has no-fault auto insurance legislation had in some provinces? How does it
modify tort law?
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________

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6. What are the two main categories of torts?


______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
7. Contrast the tort of assault with the tort of battery.
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
8. How is a charged party referred to in a criminal proceeding?
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
9. What is the purpose of a criminal prosecution?
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
10. Who brings the legal action in a tort claim and in a criminal prosecution?
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
11. What is the primary goal of a tort remedy?
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
12. What is a structured settlement?
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
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13. Who has the burden of proof in a criminal action, and what is the standard of proof?
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
14. What burden of proof is required for the plaintiff to succeed?
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
15. Outline the difference between primary and vicarious liability.
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
16. Explain the doctrine of vicarious liability.
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
17. What is the rationale for the doctrine of vicarious liability?
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
18. How does the law deal with joint tort-feasors?
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________

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19. Whom can a plaintiff recover against when joint tort-feasors are involved?
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
20. How does the legislation change the common law when there is more than one cause for
the injury in a tort action?
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
21. What is the purpose of workers compensation legislation and how does this legislation
modify tort law?
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
22. What impact does a successful defence of contributory negligence have on the amount
of damages?
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
23. When would a court grant an order for an injunction?
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
24. Does tort law compensate only for physical injury? Explain.
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
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25. How are damages for non-physical forms of distress typically proven in court?
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
26. What categories of pecuniary damages is the plaintiff entitled to receive?
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
27. What are punitive damages and what role do they have in Canada?
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
28. Compare punitive damages in Canada with those in the United States.
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
29. Explain how a single event can give rise to two separate legal actions.
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
30. What steps can a business take to manage its tort risk?
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________

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ANSWERS
Key Terms
Tortpage 221
A harm caused by one person to another, other than through breach of contract, and for
which the law provides a remedy.
Trespass to land221
Wrongful interference with someones possession of land.
Deceit or fraudpage 221
A false representation intentionally or recklessly made by one person to another that causes
damage.
Negligencepage 221
Unreasonable conduct, including a careless act or omission, that causes harm to another.
Tort-feasorpage 222
A person who commits a tort.
Intentional tortpage 224
A harmful act that is committed on purpose.
Assaultpage 224
The threat of imminent physical harm.
Batterypage 224
Intentional infliction of harmful or offensive physical contact.
Vicarious liabilitypage 226
The liability that an employer has for the tortious acts of an employee committed in the
ordinary course of scope of employment.
Joint tort-feasorpage 227
Two or more persons whom a court has held to be jointly responsible for the plaintiffs loss
or injuries.
Contributory negligencepage 228
A defence claiming that the plaintiff is at least partially responsible for the harm that has
occurred.
Workers compensation legislationpage 228
Legislation that provides no-fault compensation for injured employees in lieu of their right to
sue in tort.
Non-pecuniary damagespage 229
Compensation for pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, and loss of life expectancy.
Pecuniary damagespage 229
Compensation for out-of-pocket expenses, loss of future income, and cost of future care.
Punitive damagespage 230
An award to the plaintiff to punish the defendant for malicious, oppressive, and high-handed
conduct.
Aggravated damagespage 232
Compensation for intangible injuries, such as distress and humiliation, caused by the
defendants reprehensible conduct.

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Matching
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.
9.
10.

Dpage 226
Epage 223
Bpage 221
Apage 224
Fpage 225
Hpage 229
Gpage 229
Cpage 228
Bpage 221
Apage 224

Questions
1. What has the Supreme Court of Canada identified as the function of tort law?
Page 221: According to the Supreme Court of Canada, tort law provides the means whereby
compensation, usually in the form of damages, may be paid for injuries suffered by a party
as a result of the wrongful conduct of others.
2. What type of behaviour does the tort of trespass to land address?
Page 221: The tort of trespass to land addresses wrongful interference with someones
possession of land.
3. Does tort law automatically provide a remedy when someone has been physically or
economically injured? Explain.
Page 222: The law of torts will not automatically provide a remedy when someone has been
physically or economically injured. A key objective of tort law is to distinguish between a
loss suffered by an injured individual that should remain uncompensated and one in which
responsibility for the loss should be shifted to the party considered responsible for the loss.
Tort law provides an evolving set of rules for making that determination.
4. On what basis does tort law seek to impose liability?
Page 222: To a large extent, tort law seeks to impose liability based on fault. A central
function of tort law is to compensate an injured party when the injury is the result of
someone elses blameworthy conduct.
5. What impact has no-fault auto insurance legislation had in some provinces? How does it
modify tort law?
Page 222: Liability varies across provinces, depending on the no-fault elements of the
provincial Insurance Act relating to auto insurance that may be in place. A pure no-fault
system eliminates the ability to claim in tort.
6. What are the two main categories of torts?
Page 224: Torts can be divided into two groups:
Intentional torts are harmful acts that are done on purpose and cause injury.
Unintentional torts are committed through negligence, where harmful and careless acts
are not done on purpose but cause injury.
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7. Contrast the tort of assault with the tort of battery.


Page 224: Assault involves a threat of imminent physical harm without there being any
actual physical contact. The tort of battery generally involves physical contact and is defined
by the Supreme Court of Canada as the intentional infliction of unlawful force, harmful or
offensive contact, on another person.
8. How is a charged party referred to in a criminal proceeding?
Page 225: They are referred to as the accused or possibly a defendant.
9. What is the purpose of a criminal prosecution?
Page 224: The purpose of a criminal prosecution is to sanction behaviour and secure
appropriate punishment, be it a fine, imprisonment, or both.
10. Who brings the legal action in a tort claim and in a criminal prosecution?
Page 225: In a tort claim, the plaintiff (the injured party) commences the legal action. In a
criminal prosecution, Crown prosecutors, employed by the federal or provincial
government, bring the legal action.
11. What is the primary goal of a tort remedy?
Page 228: The primary goal of a tort remedy is to compensate the victim for loss caused by
the defendant, not to punish the defendant.
12. What is a structured settlement?
Page 226: A structured settlement is typically a settlement that provides for payments over
time. It might take the form of an annuity.
13. Who has the burden of proof in a criminal action, and what is the standard of proof?
Page 225: In a criminal action, the Crown has the burden of proving the case, and it must be
proved beyond a reasonable doubt. Guilt must be a logical deduction from the evidence and
not simply a belief the accused committed the act.
14. What burden of proof is required for the plaintiff to succeed?
Page 225: The plaintiff must prove the case on the balance of probabilities, which means
that the plaintiff must prove that it is more likely than not that the defendant was responsible
for the injury. The plaintiff must convince the judge that there is a better than 50 percent
chance that he or she was harmed by the defendant.
15. Outline the difference between primary and vicarious liability.
Page 226: Primary liability arises through ones own personal wrongdoing. Vicarious
liability arises through the relationship that someone has to the person who actually commits
the tort.
16. Explain the doctrine of vicarious liability.
Page 226: The doctrine of vicarious liability makes an employer liable for the torts
committed by its employees when they were acting in the normal or ordinary course of

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employment, even where the conduct was unauthorized by the employer. However, if the
conduct is unconnected to the employees job, the employee alone is responsible.
17. What is the rationale for the doctrine of vicarious liability?
Page 227: The doctrine has been justified on the following bases:
The employer takes the benefits of the business and so must bear the risk and costs.
The plaintiff has a better chance of recovery against the employer.
The potential risks and costs give the employer an incentive to prevent torts.
18. How does the law deal with joint tort-feasors?
Page 227: Legislation passed across Canada states that if the negligence of more than one
person is responsible for the loss, the victim or plaintiff can sue any or all of them, with
recovery apportioned between the joint tort-feasors according to their level of responsibility.
19. Whom can a plaintiff recover against when joint tort-feasors are involved?
Page 228: The plaintiff can recover 100 percent of the judgment from any single defendant a
court has held to be jointly responsible. The tort-feasor can then seek apportionment.
20. How does the legislation change the common law when there is more than one cause for
the injury in a tort action?
Page 228: The common law did assess responsibility for torts where there were multiple
causes. The Contributory Negligence Act states that if the negligence of more than one
person is responsible for the loss, the plaintiff can sue any or all of them, and recovery is
apportioned between the respective defendants according to their level of responsibility.
21. What is the purpose of workers compensation legislation and how does this legislation
modify tort law?
Page 228: Workers compensation legislation removes the element of fault, or blame, for an
injury. It provides money to employees for work-related injuries and illnesses. However, the
employee cannot sue the employer for negligence. The legislation takes away the
employees right to sue in tort law but provides compensation no matter who is at fault.
22. What impact does a successful defence of contributory negligence have on the amount
of damages?
Page 228: The amount of damages the plaintiff is awarded is reduced by the proportion for
which the plaintiff is responsible.
23. When would a court grant an order for an injunction?
Page 228: A court would order an injunction if money would not be an appropriate remedy
under the circumstances, such as when the plaintiff wants the defendant to stop certain
actions.
24. Does tort law compensate only for physical injury? Explain.
Page 229: No, tort law can compensate for more than just physical injury; it can also
compensate for mental pain and suffering and other forms of emotional distress. These other
areas are approached with more caution by the judiciary.
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25. How are damages for non-physical forms of distress typically proven in court?
Page 229: Damages related to pain and suffering and other forms of emotional distress are
typically proven through psychiatric, or other forms of expert, evidence.
26. What categories of pecuniary damages is the plaintiff entitled to receive?
Page 229: The plaintiff may, according to the circumstances of the case, be entitled to
cost of future care
loss of future income
special damages (out of pocket expenses)
27. What are punitive damages and what role do they have in Canada?
Page 230: Punitive damages, also known as exemplary damages, are an exception to the
general rule that damages are intended only to compensate the plaintiff. They are awarded to
punish the defendant for malicious, oppressive, and high-handed conduct or when the
defendant might otherwise profit from such behaviour.
28. Compare punitive damages in Canada with those in the United States.
Page 231: Punitive damages are higher in the United States, partly because jury trials are
more common in the United States, and juries may be more easily influenced to make larger
awards than judges are. A second factor is that the Supreme Court of Canada has insisted on
proportionality as the measure for punitive damages. Punitive damages must be rationally
related to and be no more than necessary to punish the defendant, deter wrongdoers, or
convey denunciation of the defendants conduct.
29. Explain how a single event can give rise to two separate legal actions.
Pages 224 and 232: A single act, such as an assault, can give rise to both a tort claim and
criminal proceedings. A single event could give raise to different civil law claims in a single
lawsuit, such as both tort law and contract law claims. In the civil action, however, the
different claims would likely proceed within the context of a single lawsuit.
30. What steps can a business take to manage its tort risk?
Page 234: A businesss failure to recognize tort risk can result in increased costs, including
legal fees, management time, and a court judgment. Insurance premiums may increase and
the business reputation may be tarnished. A risk management plan can help reduce,
eliminate, and transfer risk.

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