Duhaime's Law Dictionary


False Arrest Definition:

The intentional and total confinement of a person against his will without lawful justification.

In Sil, Justice Dawson of the Saskatchewan Court of Queen's Bench adopted these words:

"Causes of action for false arrest, false imprisonment and battery are often all subsumed under the rubric of false imprisonment. However, it is important to draw the distinctions between the causes of action to avoid confusion....

"A false arrest is the act of wrongfully placing a plaintiff under arrest.

"A false imprisonment, generally, is the wrongful imprisonment of one person by another person."

In Jensen, Justice Hamilton of the Manitoba Court of Appeal wrote:

"The tort of false arrest is subsumed in the tort of false imprisonment....

"The tort of false arrest occurs when a person is arrested without justification....

"[F]alse arrest ... is the intentional and total confinement of a person against his will without lawful justification.  This tort is a branch of the trespass action and no actual loss is required to establish a claim for damages.  The plaintiffs must only prove that they were arrested or detained and that the arrest or detention was caused by the defendants.  Once the plaintiffs prove the arrest occurred, the onus shifts to the defendants to justify their actions."

Similarly, in Collis, Justice Swinton of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice wrote;

"False arrest is a tort resulting from the intentional and total confinement of a person against his or her will and without lawful justification.  False imprisonment is a tort that similarly flows from the unlawful total deprivation of a person’s liberty.  The onus is on the plaintiff to prove that he or she was arrested or detained, and that the defendant caused the arrest or detention.  The onus then shifts to the defendant to justify his or her actions."

See false imprisonment.

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