Duhaime's Law Dictionary


Phillips v Eyre, Rule in Definition:

When a tort has been committed on foreign soil, it cannot be brought on home soil unless it was actionable if it had of occurred on home soil, and without legal justification at the place it occurred.

Based on the 1870 case of Phillips v Eyre.

The plaintiff had been arrested in Jamaica during a civil uprising. When he returned to England, he sued the governor of Jamaica in England for false imprisonment and assault. After the alleged assault, a statute had been passed in Jamaica giving the governor immunity from acts committed in suppressing the uprising.

In Phillips v Eyre, Justice Wiles wrote:

"As a general rule, in order to found a suit in England for a wrong alleged to have been committed abroad, two conditions must be fulfilled.

"First, the wrong must be of such a character that it would have been actionable if committed in England.

"Secondly, the act must not have been justifiable by the law of the place where it was done."

Because of the Jamaican statute granting immunity, the plaintiff was denied recovery by the English court.

In Wapole, Justice Cave added:

"By the well-known rule laid down ... in Philips v. Eyre ... an action will not lie in one country or province for a wrong committed in another unless two conditions are fulfilled.

"First, the wrong must be of such a character that it would have been actionable if committed in the country of the forum; and, secondly, it must not have been justifiable by the law of the country where it was done.

"It is unnecessary for the purposes of this appeal to consider the precise meaning of the term justifiable ... but, at all events, it must have reference to legal justification, and an act or neglect which is neither actionable nor punishable cannot be said to be otherwise than justifiable within the meaning of the rule."

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