Legal Maxim: Damnum Sine Injuria and Injuria Sine Damno

Damnum sine injuria

Meaning:

  • Actual damage suffered without legal injury

Meaning Word by Word:

  • Damnum: Loss or damage
  • Sine: Without
  • Injuria: Injury to Private Legal Rights

Explanation:

  • The damage may be in form of money, service, physical hurt, loss of health or reputation and loss of comfort. According to this maxim, these are mere damages without any violation of Legal Rights.
  • The maxim refers to actual damage without violation of any Legal Right. In such case, the mere fact of damage does not mean there is an injury i.e. violation of Legal Rights. There are many acts which are not wrongful in the eyes of Law

Following damages are not actionable:

  • Loss due to fair competition. The fair competition leads to the welfare of society as a whole.
  • If the damage is caused due to good faith to avoid a greater degree of damage.
  • If the damage is done because of a defamatory statement, which is given underprivileged occasions such as orders or instruction in the course.

Case Laws:

Where the maxim is applied:

Case – 1: Gloucester Grammar School Case (1410) Y.B. 11 Hen. IV:

Facts:

  • A Schoolteacher (the defendant) started a new school in front of Gloucester Grammar School. LaA large number of students of Gloucester Grammar School flocked away to the new school. Thus there was a monetary loss to the owner of Gloucester Grammar School. The owner of Gloucester Grammar School (the plaintiff) filed a writ petition and his plea was he suffered monetary loss due to the act of the defendant and claimed compensation from the defendant.

Court Proceedings:

  • The Court’s view was that it was true that there is a financial loss (damage) to the plaintiff but the defendant has a Right to start any legal business and can have a fair competition. Hence the defendant had not violated any Legal Right of plaintiff hence no action can be taken against the defendant. As it is a fair competition, the plaintiff has an equal opportunity to improve its standard and increase his strength.

Case – 2: Chasemore v/s Richards (1875) 7 H.L.S. 349:

Injuria sine damno

Meaning:

  • Legal injury suffered without actual damage

Meaning Word by Word:

  • Injuria: Injury to private Legal Rights
  • Sine: Without
  • Damnum or Damno: Loss or damage

Explanation:

  • The damage may be in form of money, service, physical hurt, loss of health or reputation and loss of comfort. According to this maxim, in spite of no damages in any form, If there is a violation of legal right then in court law remedy can be obtained.

Case Laws:

Where the maxim is applied:

Facts:



  • It is a leading English case. Ashby (the plaintiff) tendered his vote in the parliamentary election. The returning officer at the polling booth named White (the defendant) refused to register the plaintiff’s vote. The plaintiff was a legitimate citizen of the constituency and a qualified voter. The vote tendered by the plaintiff was in the favour of the candidate who won the election.

Legal Proceedings:

  • The plaintiff filed a petition with a plea that being a qualified voter his vote was not registered. Hence he should get compensation from the defendant.
  • The plea of the defendant was that the plaintiff’s non-registered vote was in the favour of the candidate who won the election and thus there is no damage (injury) to him.
  • Court held that the vote tendered by the plaintiff was in the favour of the candidate who won the election. Thus there is no actual loss (damage) to the plaintiff but his Legal Right of voting was violated by the defendant. To disallow a qualified voter to register his vote was a civil wrong and hence the plaintiff had the Right to have a remedy in the court of the law.
  • The doctrine of injury sine damnum prevailed and compensation was offered to the plaintiff.

Case – 2: Mazetti v/s Williams: (1830) 1 B & Ad. 415

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