Injuria sine Damnum
Author By Anshu Prasad
Maxims are an integral part of various subjects of law and even make the understanding of legal principles, rules, and interpretations very easy. Injuria sine Damnum is a legal maxim under the law of torts which means any infringement of legal right of the person without actually suffering from any physical injury or monetary loss. Whereas Damnum sine injuria is a moral wrong and it talks about actual damages caused to a person without infringing any legal rights of the person.
Maxims are an integral part of various law subjects and even make the understanding of legal principles, rules, and interpretations very easy. Maxims are widely used in the Law of torts also. The Law of torts provides a remedy in the form of damages for every legal harm caused by one person to the other. Injuria Sine Damnum & Damnum sine injuria are the two most important maxims under the law of torts which explain the different types of legal injuries caused to a person and the remedies which are available for the same.
Injuria Sine Damnum
The term Injuria refers to ‘ injury of legal rights’, sine refers to ‘without’ and damnum means ‘damages or monetary loss’. Injuria sine Damnum is a legal maxim under the law of torts which means any infringement of legal right of the person without actually suffering from any physical injury or monetary loss. This right can be exercised in the cases related to defamation as well as trespass to land. In the case of Injuria Sine Damnum, the person need not prove the damages that he has suffered, he only needs to prove that legal damage has been caused to him, and the action thus brought before the court is actionable per se. The law has even provided the liberty to the person that merely a threat to the infringement of the legal right of a person, even without suffering any actual legal injury, the person can file a
suit under the provisions mentioned under the specific relief Act under the Declaration and injunction.
The leading case of Ashby v. White 1 is the best example of this maxim. In this case, a registered voter (Plaintiff) was denied by the in-charge of that election department (Defendant) to cast his vote. The Plaintiff sued the defendant for compensation even though he has not suffered any monetary loss. Moreover, the defendant claimed that the party whom the petitioner wished to vote had even won the election. The Court held that the right to vote is one of the legal rights of the petitioner and the defendant by not allowing him to cast his vote has violated his right and therefore the defendant was held liable to compensate for the same. In the case of Bhim Singh v. State of J&K 2 , the MLA of Jammu & Kashmir, Mr. Bhim Singh was wrongfully arrested & detained by police when he was on his way to attend the assembly sessions. He was even not presented before the magistrate within 24 hours. The petitioner was deprived of his legal rights as well as his fundamental rights under article 21 of the Constitution of India by not letting him attend the assembly sessions Therefore the court held the respondent was liable to pay 50,000 as compensation to the petitioner for the damages suffered by him.
In the case of Sain Das v. Ujagar Singh 3 it was observed that Injuria sine Damnum is even applicable in the cases of the trespass of immovable property when there has been an unjustified intrusion on the property which is in someone else’s possession and nominal damages are provided for the same. It was even held that this rule cannot be applied to every case concerning property matters irrespective of the circumstances.
In the leading case of Marzetti v. Williams 4 the customer had a bank account in a bank and when he went there to withdraw his money by self cheque, even though he had enough account balance he was refused by the banker to withdraw money without specifying any reason for the same. The customer(Plaintiff) filed a suit against the banker claiming damages.
It was held that even though the plaintiff had not suffered any monetary losses but as he was
deprived of his legal right by not allowing him to withdraw the money from his bank account.
Therefore the defendant was held liable to compensate for the damages.
Damnum Sine Injuria
This legal maxim talks about actual damages caused to a person without infringing any legal
rights of the person. The damages which do not violate the legal rights of another person are not actionable. No remedies are provided by the court of law for the damages caused to a person if his legal rights have not been violated. In the landmark case of Gloucester grammar school 5 , the defendant had set up a rival school in front of the plaintiff’s schools and due to this competition, the plaintiff’s school had suffered huge losses. The Plaintiff filed a suit claiming compensation from the defendant. The court held that as no legal rights of the Plaintiff have been infringed upon by the defendant as he was doing his own business.
It can be concluded that the two maxims are used to determine the liability of the person in cases related to tort laws. Injuria sine Damnum allows a person to claim damages for the legal injury caused to him even if he has not suffered any physical or monetary injury from such acts. Whereas Damnum sine injuria is a moral wrong that provides no remedies for the actual losses suffered by a person if the legal right of the person has not been infringed.
Foot Notes :-
1 (1703) 2 LR 938.
2 AIR 1986 SC 494
3 AIR 1940 Lah 21
4 (1859) 7 HLC 349
5 (1410) Y.B. Hill 11 Hen, 4 of 47, p. 21, 36.