Assault and Battery

Assault & Battery

Civil consequences for uncivil behaviour

In civil law, the tort of assault is the threat by one person to commit unwanted (i.e., non-consensual) physical contact on another person. Physical harm does not need to occur for this tort to be made out, but it is the reasonable apprehension of imminent harm that is required. The tort of battery is the actual unwanted physical contact by one person against another. Common defences to these torts include consent and self-defence.

Although assault and battery often go hand-in-hand, in some scenarios only assault or only battery is committed. For example, a person who does not anticipate being hit (e.g., due to being asleep, the attack coming from behind, etc) would likely not be able to claim the tort of assault but would still be able to claim the tort of battery.

These torts can be committed in various contexts, including in interactions with police officers and medical practitioners.

What if there is a criminal conviction?

If a person has been convicted of assault or similar offences in the criminal court, the victim or complainant may also seek a civil judgment for damages against the convicted person. In these scenarios, there is often no dispute regarding whether the person committed the assault or battery, since they have already been convicted, and these often result in disputes regarding the quantum of damages.

If a person has been charged with assault or a similar offence, and the charges do not result in a conviction, this does not mean the victim or complainant cannot seek damages in civil proceedings. However, the plaintiff must prove on a balance of probabilities all the elements of a tort before damages can be assessed.

If you or someone you know has been involved in the commission of assault and/or battery, contact us today for more information on starting a claim or defending against one.


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