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This article is written by Raisa Gupta of 3rd Semester of The Law School, University of Jammu, J&K. an intern under Legal Vidhiya.


We live in a world where everything revolves around the “LAW”. Law is there since the time immemorial. The common people awareness in law is quite low due to insufficiency of legal knowledge. The legal language is a chief component of law involving complexity. Legal language has been conservative and somewhat steady. It uses outdated grammar and sentence structures. Legal maxims are one of the supreme components of legal language. Legal maxims are concerned with words and phrases composed of mainly Greek and Latin words which makes it complicated for a common man to understand thus requiring proper legal education.  Maxims are generally used in various branches of law, including tort law. This article mainly deals with the constituents of torts and the two crucial legal maxims i.e. Damnum Sine Injuria and Injuria Sine Damnum.


Tort, civil wrong, criminal wrong, plaintiff, defendant, damnum sine injuria, injuria sine damnum, compensation, legal damages, infringement, permanent injunction.


The word tort has been procured from the Latin term ‘tortum’ which means ‘to twist’.[1] A tort is a civil wrong which is not exclusively a breach of contract or breach of trust, which gives rise to injury or harm to another person or party. The nature of civil wrong is different from that of criminal wrong. In civil wrong the injured party institutes civil proceedings against the wrongdoer and here the compensation is mainly in the form of money whereas in criminal wrong, the criminal proceedings are brought by the state against the wrongdoer and here the injured party is not compensated, justice is provided by punishing the accused in such cases.


It is important to prove two conditions/elements before constituting a tort:-

  1. There must be an act or omission on the part of defendant.
  2. The act or omission should result in the legal

A person can only be made liable if he have done some kind of act which he is not expected to do or omitted to do some act which he is supposed to do. A person will be made liable for any wrongful act or an omission which is illegally made.

For example: A publishes a defamatory statement in the newspaper defaming B, then he can be made liable for defamation.

Case – Glasgow corporation v Taylor[2]


The other condition to make the person liable for the tort is to prove that there has been a legal damage caused to him. The word ‘Damage’ means harm suffered to a person/plaintiff  by other person/defendant as a result of wrongful act or omission.

Under law of torts, no action is possible until and unless no legal right is infringed. Therefore, if there has been violation or infringement of a legal right the same is actionable.

For presuming the damages, rights are classified into two categories: Absolute and Qualified.

  • Absolute

There is no requirement of evidence of damage in case of infringement of absolute right.  If the absolute law or right of the person is violated then the law presumes damage even if no monetary loss is caused to him.

  • Qualified

There is requirement of evidence of damage in case of infringement of qualified right. If the qualified law of a person is violated then there is no presumption of damage by the law.

The two principles or legal maxims are important to get more clarity about legal damage.

These are as follows:

  1. Damnum Sine Injuria
  2. Injuria Sine Damnum

Both the maxims are mainly divided into 3 parts:

  • Damnum-  Damnum means  substantial damage or loss in respect to money, health, etc.
  • Sine- Sine means without.
  • Injuria-  Injuria means violation or infringement of plaintiff’s legal rights.

These two maxims fall in the category of qualified rights.


Damnum Sine Injuria= damage without injury

Damnum Sine Injuria refers to ‘ damage without injury’.  It means damages in which there is no violation of plaintiff’s legal rights. As legal damage is essential while constituting a tort therefore, if there is no infringement of legal right of the plaintiff then no action lies in this case.

This maxim is based on the legal principle which states that if a peson is exercising his ordinary rights within the reasonable limits and without violating the other persons legal rights then such practice is not actionable.

The loss can be in the form of substantial damage or harm in respect of money, health, comfort or like.

Therefore, in the case where legal right is violated the damages are to be provided in that case whereas in the case where there is no infringement of the legal rights then no damages or remedies are available for the same.

 Gloucester Grammar School Case[3]


In the Gloucester Grammar School case the defendant was a schoolmaster, who set up a rival school to that of the plaintiff’s who was also having the school there. Because of the competition, the plaintiff had to reduce the school fees form 40 pence to 12 pence per scholar per quarter. The plaintiff plead for the compensation of damages casued to him.

It was held that that there is no remedy in the case of damages to the plaintiff because there was no wrongful act or infringement to the plaintiff’s legal right by the defendant.

Judgment of the case

According to the court, only when the legal rights of the legal rights are infringed then the damages are awarded and and when no no legal right is infringed the maxim Damnum Sine Injuria appears and no remdy is available for it.

So, the above case no legal right of the plaintiff is violated therefore, no remedy will be provided to him.

Ushaben v. Bhagyalaxmi Chitra Mandir[4]


In 1970s a film named “Jai Santoshi Maa” was released. The plaintiff sued the defendant for a permanent injuction to restrain them from exhibiting the film. Because the film hurt the religious sentiments of the plaintiff in so far as Goddesses of hindu religion were depicted as jealous.

It was held by the court that there is no remedy in this case.

Judgment of the court

It was observed that hurt to religious sentiments is not a legal wrong. And no person has legal right to enforce his legal views on another person.

Since there is no violation of legal right, the requested permanent injuction was rejected.

Some others cases are:

  • Mogul Steamship Co. v. McGregor Gow and Co.[5]
  • Action v. Blundell[6]
  • Chesmore v. Richard[7]

Injuria Sine Damnum= injury without damage

Injuria sine Damnum refers to ‘injury without damage’. It means violation of plaintiff’s legal rights without causing any damage, loss or harm.

In the maxim Injuria Sine Damnum where ‘Injuria’ means ‘injury’, ‘sine’ means ‘without’ and ‘damage’ means ‘physical loss’. Therefore, Injuria sine Damnum means ‘the injury suffered without physical loss’.

There are two kinds of torts:-

  • Those torts which are actionable per se (which is actionable without the proof of any damage).

For example- Trespass and defamation.

  • Secondary, those torts which are actionable only on the proof.

In this the plaintiff has to prove that his legal right have been infringed.

For example- Slander

           The Injuria sine Damnum deals with the first kind of tort i.e. torts which are actionable        per se.  In these cases there is no need to prove the damages suffered by the plaintiff.  Only one thing which has to be proved that the plaintiff’s legal rights has been infringed.

Every one has absolute right and the violation of this right is in itself actionable.

Bhim Singh v State of J & K[8]


In this case, an M.L.A. of J&K who was the petitioner was detained wrongfully by the police when he was going to attend the assembly session. Also, he was not produced within the required time before the magistrate. As a result, he was deprived of his consistutional right to attend the ongoing assembly session.the fundamental right to personal liberty guarnteed under article 21 (which states that no person shall be deprived of his/her personal liberty) of the Indian Constitution was also infringed.

Judgment of the court

The Supreme court ruled that the compensation of R. 50,000 were to be awarded to him. The arrest during the petition was made with malicious intent and as decided by the court Bhim Singh shall be released.

In such cases a question arises

How much compensation is to be paid?

In such cases mostly nominal damages may be awarded. But if court feels that the violation of the legal rights is due to malicious act, ( as in the case of Bhim Singh v State of J & K) the court may grant even exemplary damages in such cases.

Ashby v White[9]


In this case, the plaintiff was a qualified voter and the defendant a returning officer wrongfully refused to take his vote in the Parliamentary election. But no loss was suffered to the plaintiff because the candidate to whom the plaintiff wants to vote won the election .

Inspite of that it was held that the defendant was liable.

Judgment of the court

The plaintiff’s legal right have been violated by the defendant as he was not allowed to vote. Hence, he was subjected for damages.

 Some others cases are:

  • Nixon v. Herndon[10]   

          Distinguish between Damnum Sine Injuria and Injuria Sine Damnum

MeaningIt means damages in which there is no violation of plaintiff’s legal rights.It means violation of plaintiff’s legal rights without causing any damage, loss or harm.
CompensationNo compensation is given by the court.Compensation generally in the form of monetary damages are provided by the court.
NatureIn Damnum Sine Injuria damaged id casued to the plaintif but there is no legal injury.In Injuria Sine Damnum plaintiff suffers legal injury but there is no damage caused to him.
CasesGloucester Grammar School CaseUshaben v Bhagyalaxmi Chitra MandirAction v BlundellChesmore v RichardAshby v WhiteBhim Singh v State of J& KNixon v. Herndon   


Like other branches of law criminal law, administration law, family law corporate law, etc. torts is also one of the most important branch of law. It plays a very crucial and fundamental role in modern legal system. Tort is a civil wrong that causes harm, resulting in legal liability for the person who has comitted the tortious act. Torts may include trespass, negligence, libel, slander, nuisance, conversion, etc and where remedy is an award of pecuniary damages. It is not a criminal wrong which includes muder, rape, etc. where remedies are in the form of fine, arrest, imprisonment,etc. the remedies are mainly provided so that the injured party can restore their original position before the tort has been committed. The legal maxims is an important representation of law. It makes a distinction from the rest of the society and enhances the authority of legal profession. The legal phrases, complex structure sentenses, technical terms and formal tone are its characteristics. With the abundant of advantages of legal maxims it sometimes leds complications involving complexities, resisting to changes and many more. The two maxims i.e. Damnum Sine Injuria and Injuria Sine Damnum in detail have been discussed in the article.


[1] DR. R.K. BANGIA, Law of Torts 3 (2020)

[2] Glasgow corporation v. Taylor, [1922] 1 AC 44

[3] Gloucester Grammar School case, (1410) Y.B.Hill 11 Hen, 4 of 47, p.21,36.

[4] Ushaben v Bhagyalakshmi Chitra Mandir, A.I.R. 1978 Guj. 13.

[5] Mogul Steamship Co, v McGregorGow and Co., (1892) A.C. 25.

[6] Action v Blundell, (1848) 12 M. & W. 324.

[7] Chesmore v. Richard, (1859) 7 H.C.L. 349

[8] Bhim Singh v State of J & K, A.I.R 1986 S.C. 494.       

[9] Ashby v White, (1703) 92 ER 126.

[10] NIXON V. HERNDON, 273 US 536

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