Question from John, What are the Definitions and Differences of Assault, Battery, False Imprisonment, and the Rule in Wilkinson v Downton?
Answer from AI:
- Assault: This is an intentional act that causes another person to fear that they will be physically harmed. It doesn’t require physical contact, just the fear of it.
- Battery: This involves intentional physical contact without consent. The contact doesn’t have to cause injury, but it must be harmful or offensive.
- False Imprisonment: This is the unlawful restraint of a person against their will. It doesn’t require physical force, just the imposition of boundaries that result in confinement.
- Rule in Wilkinson v Downton: This rule, established in the 1897 case, allows for liability for intentional infliction of mental shock. The defendant must have intended to cause severe emotional distress, and the plaintiff must have suffered a recognizable psychiatric illness as a result.
Differences from the Tort of Negligence
Trespass to the person torts like assault, battery, and false imprisonment are intentional torts. They require an intentional act by the defendant. On the other hand, negligence is a tort that arises from a breach of duty of care, causing harm. It doesn’t require intent, just a failure to act with reasonable care.
Should the Rule in Wilkinson v Downton Disappear?
This is a matter of legal debate. Lord Hoffmann suggested that the rule could be absorbed into negligence law. However, others argue that the rule serves a unique purpose in addressing intentional infliction of emotional harm. Consult with a legal professional for a more in-depth analysis.