Volenti Non Fit Injuria as a Defence Under Law of Torts

Author – Chitra, (University Five Year Law College, University of Rajasthan)

INTRODUCTION

The expression” Volenti non-fit injuria” means “Injury isn’t done to a willing person.”

First, let’s understand what a tort is.

The term” tort” originates from the Latin term ” Tortum,” which means” to twist.” therefore, a tort refers to conduct that’s  crooked, crooked, and unlawful, original to the English term ‘wrong.’

Salmond states,” Tort is a civil wrong for which the remedy is a common law action for unliquidated damages and which isn’t  simply the breach of contract or the breach of a trust or other  simply  indifferent obligation.”

When the complainant initiates legal action against the defendant for a specific tort, establishing the actuality of all the essential rudiments of that tort, the defendant becomes liable. still, certain vittles can vindicate the defendant from liability, known as general defences. There are eight general defences in the law of torts, and “volenti non-fit injuria”  is one of them.

This legal sentential guards defendants in tort cases, allowing them to argue that the complainant, by their own choice, willingly assumed the pitfalls associated with a particular exertion or circumstance. The operation of this doctrine depends on demonstrating that the complainant was apprehensive of the implicit detriment and freely accepted the associated pitfalls.

Meaning and Explanation

It is also known as Defence of Consent.

The doctrine of Volenti non-fit injuria means that “no injury is done to a willing person.”  It implies that if a person willingly  warrants to the infliction of  detriment upon themselves, they aren’t entitled to any remedies under the Law of Torts. Any  detriment suffered freely by an  existent doesn’t amount to legal injury, and  thus, it isn’t  practicable under the law of torts. When a complainant gives  concurrence to suffer  detriment upon themselves, they aren’t entitled to remedies, and their  concurrence acts as a valid defence for the defendants.

For  illustration, if A invites B to their home for  regale, A cannot sue B for trespass because A has willingly foisted  detriment upon themselves. still, it should be noted that an act causing  detriment mustn’t exceed the limits of the  concurrence given. In the game of football, players  indicate  concurrence to the normal course of injuries, but it doesn’t mean they cannot sue for deliberate injuries caused by other players. A person who freely agrees to the publication of  scandalous matter cannot bring an action for  vilification. No  existent can  apply a right that they’ve freely waived or abandoned. concurrence to waive one’s right can be expressed or  inferred. For the defence of Volenti non-fit injuria to be available, the defendants must prove that the complainant was completely  apprehensive of the  pitfalls involved and their extent. Bare knowledge of the  threat isn’t sufficient; the complainant must give  concurrence to sustain that  detriment.

The defence of Volenti non-fit injuria was successfully invoked in the case of Padmavati v Dugganika. In this case, two  non-natives took a lift in a jeep while the  motorist was going to fill petrol. suddenly, one of the bolts fixing the right front wheel came out, performing in the two  nonnatives being thrown out of the jeep and seriously injured. One of them indeed  failed as a consequence of the incident. The court held that neither the  motorist nor the  proprietor of the jeep was liable for two reasons first, it was a clear accident, and second, the  non-natives freely entered the jeep, allowing the defence of Volenti non-fit injuria to be successfully  contended.

Also, when a trespasser is  apprehensive of the presence of spring  ordnance, they aren’t entitled to recover damages if they’re injured by those spring  ordnance.

Essentials Elements of Volenti non-fit injura

  1. Defence of consent-

The defence of concurrence, also known as volenti non-fit injuria, is a legal principle where a person who freely warrants the threat of detriment cannot claim damages if they suffer any detriment as a result of the threat they deliberately and willingly accepted. For this defence to succeed, the defendant must prove that the descendant

  • Had full knowledge of the nature and extent of the threat involved
  • Freely accepted the threat with no pressure or compulsion
  • Wasn’t under any disability or internal incapability

 Case Hall v. Brooklands Auto Racing Club

In this case, the complainant attended a motor auto race held at Brooklands. During the race, a collision passed between two buses, and the observers, including the complainant, were hit, resulting in the complainant’s injury. The defendant company that possessed the tracks was sued. The courts held that since the threat was nicely foreseeable, considering the dangerous nature of the sport, the defendant company isn’t liable.

Case Padmavathi and Ors. v. Dugganaika and Ors.( 1974)

 In this case, two non-natives freely accepted a lift in a jeep. Suddenly, due to a mechanical disfigurement, the jeep stumbled, and they sustained injuries. The motorist and proprietor of the jeep were sued. The court held that since the complainants willingly took the lift and the accident wasn’t nicely foreseeable, the defendants weren’t liable.

  1. Consent Should Not have been given on the basis of Tort or under any compulsion- (i.e consent is not obtained by fraud)

Case:- R v. Williams

The defendant, who was the teenage plaintiff’s singing schoolteacher, engaged in sexual exertion with her, falsely claiming that his conduct was a system of remedying her breathing and perfecting her singing. The girl agreed to the exertion, under the belief that it was a medical or surgical intervention. The defendant was condemned to rape. He appealed the conviction, arguing that the plaintiff had acceded.

The Court of Appeal upheld the conviction, stating that the defendant had deceived the plaintiff regarding the nature and quality of his conduct by leading her to believe they weren’t sexual. thus, the plaintiff didn’t give valid concurrence, as her concurrence was attained through fraud.

  1. No liability only for Consented Act

Take Lakshmi Rajan v Malar Hospital Ltd for example; A 40-year-old woman working at Malar Hospital Ltd found a lump in her pelvis. It does not affect the size of the uterus removed unprotected during surgery. The court said that nursing home officials were responsible for the deficiencies in services. It was also determined that her consent to the surgery was not her consent to the removal of her uterus.

  1. Limitations to this doctrine
  • Rescue Cases

It appears that the defence in this case is  the doctrine of “voluntary compensation”, which is a legal right given to the person who receives a threat of damage, and cannot demand compensation for the damage.

Disclosures of information are generally considered an exception to this protection. Because a person who enters a dangerous situation to save others during a rescue is not considered to have voluntarily assumed the risk of harm. Instead, the truck driver is deemed reasonable and reasonable and is generally not precluded from receiving compensation for any injuries they suffer.

Case – Haynes v Harwood

The complainant was police officer Bobby, who worked at a police station on a busy road that was often crowded with people, including children. The defendant had two wagons left on the same road. After the damaged truck, the driver pulled a rope to the bus. For some reason, they rushed out onto the busy road in a minibus, apparently because the grave was thrown onto the horses. Officer Bobby saw them at the police station, got out of his car and tried to stop them but was injured and demanded payment for the damage. The King’s Bench ruled against the plaintiff. The defendant appealed to the Supreme Court. A no-injury verdict will not help Police Officer Bobby claim compensation for the injuries he suffered because he refused to acknowledge the threats but followed the legal bridge.

  • Scienti non-fit Injuria

Case -Smith v. Charles Baker and Sons

The complainant was a contractor working for the defendant’s construction company and was injured on the job. The monument was removed from the plan of the crane and the complainant left the street when he saw the men lift the monument over his head. A colleague began to raise concerns about the dangers of lifting the monument up, and the complainant himself told the crane operator that it was unsafe. Despite these warnings, the complainant hit the shaft while working on the drilling machine, causing serious injuries. There was no warning that the grave would lean in this direction. The plaintiff’s complaint was that he was aiming for a hammer and that he was not in a position to protect himself. The tombstone was hung over his head negligently and did not receive enough attention, causing him to fall.

At the hearing in the City Courthouse, the defendant’s attorney argued that the plaintiff chose to do the job and was concerned about the problem that arose. still, the jury made several findings

(1) the machine used for  rooting  the  monuments from the  slice wasn’t suitable for the task;

(2) the failure to  give an alarm system during gravestone lifting was a fault in the  system, job,  ministry, and planning;

(3) the employer or any person responsible for addressing  similar issues was careless in not addressing the  disfigurement;

(4) the complainant wasn’t careless and didn’t willingly accept the  parlous employment with knowledge of its implicit  detriment. The Court of Appeal upheld the appeal primarily because there was no  substantiation of wrongdoing on the part of the defendants. The complainant  also appealed to the House of Lords.

Conclusion

The doctrine of volenti non-fit injuria holds a significant position in the general defence within the realm of tort law. Defendants can  use this doctrine to  vindicate themselves of liability by demonstrating that the complainant willingly acceded to the same. still, certain essential conditions must be met for the doctrine to be successfully applied.   In conclusion, the defence grounded on this doctrine isn’t comprehensive but rather has a limited  compass. There are situations where the  operation of volenti non-fit injuria can be  barred,  similar as when the defendant is careless. The limitations mentioned  over in the paper further  circumscribe its  connection. Overall, the defence of volenti non-fit injuria proves to be an effective means of escaping liability.

REFERENCES

Books- R.K. Bangia, The Law of torts

E resources:-

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