There are many intentional torts, many wasting but still not dead within the old law books of the common law.

In contemporary law and within the courtrooms of modern democratic societies such as Canada or the USA, the vast majority of intentional torts of concern to the Court are captured by this list:

Two (private nuisance and trespass) are against property; the rest against the person. Nuisance and defamation are dealt with in separate articles.


Assault is where a tort-feasor threatens injury or harm, whether realized or not.

Linden in Canadian Tort Law, 6th Edition, (1997) defined it as:

".. the intentional creation of the apprehension of imminent harmful or offensive contact...

"An assault can be committed without a battery and battery can occur without an assault preceding it. For example, swinging at someone and missing is an assault but not a battery. Striking someone from behind, without his or her knowledge, is a battery but not an assault. Conduct which intentionally arouses apprehension of an imminent battery constitutes an assault. Shaking a fist at another person, lunging at someone in an effort to attack and swinging an axe at another person are actionable assaults."

Assault or BatteryBattery: intentional, unwanted physical contact by tort-feasor with another person or clothing (often misunderstood as an "assault").

Battery, except in unusual circumstances such as distinguished by A. Linden above, necessarily includes an assault; thus the expression "assault and battery".

Examples (battery): punches, kicks, stabbing and shooting, pulling a chair out just as someone is sitting down, pushing someone off a ride, poisoning, an unwanted hug or kiss (within reason given de minimus non curat lex).

There is no tort liability for casual everyday events like tapping someone's shoulder lightly to get their attention or an accidental jostle in a narrow corridor.

Separate from tort liability, but possibly running concurrent with it, may be criminal liability for assault (see, for example, ¶256 of the 2007 Canadian Criminal Code).


A man's home is his castle! Trespass, which means to "pass beyond", refers to the violation of another's real property line, the tort-feasor being called a trespasser.

Trespass to land: occupying (including transit) another's land without lawful right, in person or causing an object to cross the property line.

Business usually invite persons upon their premises; so there's lawful authority. Permission is implied – therefore, no trespass.

But a visitor's welcome can be revoked/cancelled at any time and the person must leave or she/he is then trespassing.

Revocation cannot be based on prohibited grounds of discrimination but otherwise, business are free to exclude whoever they wish.

Eg. a blackjack expert may be excluded from a casino.

In Saunders v Patricia Hotel, a tavern patron asked to leave because of hearsay that he had a knife. Plaintiff argued with bouncer and finally refused and defiantly slumped into his tavern chair. Bouncers picked him up and threw him out. Court founds that plaintiff was a visitor but became a trespasser once asked to leave. He was given a reasonable opportunity to leave but declined. Force used was not excessive. Claim dismissed.

In Harris v Wong, the Defendant owned a rural gas station and answered a 5 AM knock on door (the station was marked as "closed") with a rifle which he discharged into the ground near the plaintiff who suffered wounds when the bullet ricocheted and hit him. The defendant claimed self-defence which was rejected by the Court. "At no time was the defendant threatened by an attack by (the plaintiff). An attack by fists may be answered by fists but not with deadly weapons such as … guns." The defendant was hot for $7,500 in damages.

Local governments, such as state or provincial, may adjust the law to protect public land, such as British Columbia's Trespass Act.


Restraining of a person without lawful authority.

In Bahner v Marwest Hotel, a restaurant patron retained for failure to pay for a bottle of wine he had ordered. Restaurant condemned to pay $3,500 punitive damages.

The police may detain purposes if reasonable grounds to suspect that the individual is connected to a particular crime and that such a detention is necessary.

In Canada, where reasonable grounds to believe that a person's safety is at risk, the officer may engage in a protective pat-down search.

Detention should be brief in duration and does not impose an obligation on the detained individual to answer questions posed by the police.


There has been a historic reluctance of common law to recognize privacy tort.

Statute law has intervened to establish the tort. For example, in the Canadian province of British Columbia: the Privacy Act and a Personal Information Privacy Act which gives citizens the right to access your personal information collected by private organizations, to verify security measures and to complain re private information use. The legislation is enforced by Information and Privacy Commissioner. BC also has a Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act for public bodies and a right to citizens to access their records and to correct them


The antidotes or "shields" for tort liability are called "defences" (eg. consent to surgery).

The tort is real and you're the tort-feasor but … a defence gives the defendant a "get out of jail free" card, freedom from liability.

#1 - Consent

Tort law won't protect those that voluntarily assume the risk of injury (eg. boxing). This is a defence to most torts and is well-known to the law as volenti non fit injuria. Consent cannot usually be given by minors or mentally incompetent.

#2 - Self-defence

Defence of third-parties or defence of property. Aka: "protection" and must be responsive to a reasonable belief of danger. Cannot be a counter-attack. Has to be defensive in nature but may be a first blow where an attack is imminent.

Force must be reasonable in the circumstances (reasonable force).

In Bruce v Dyer, the Plaintiff initiated a road rage incident and then forced the defendant's car to park. The Plaintiff then approached defendant waving his fist. Defendant decked the plaintiff with one blow. Self-defence was successfully raised by defendant, the Court saying that "the law does not require (the defendant) to measure with nicety the degree of force necessary to ward off the attack even where he inflicts serious injury."

In Parsey v Hankins, the defendant attacked Plaintiff while plaintiff trying to leave defendant's house. Broke plaintiff's arm. The defendant tried to convince the judge that he was acting in self-defence or using reasonable force to remove a trespasser but both failed and damages of $10,000 was awarded.

#3 - Legal authority

Usually relied on by police officers, airline stewards, teachers and parents.

§ 494(1) of Criminal Code:

"Any one may arrest without warrant … a person whom he finds committing an indictable offence".