Civil Issues In Tort Law

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The wording of section 14 includes within its scope states of mind such as “intention, knowledge, good faith, negligence, rashness, ill-will” . These factors are relevant in civil cases and actions for damages in tort law. This chapter shall look at the evidence which can be admitted to show such states of mind, as well as the weight accorded to such evidence.

In the law of torts ‘malice’ is a commonly used word; the law of fraud and deceit uses the word "scienter"; in the law of fraudulent conveyances one usually speaks of “intent to hinder, delay or defraud creditors” .

There are cases where it has been held that acts that are otherwise lawful, are made actionable by a bad motive. State of mind is accorded due weight in such cases. In
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Civil Offenses Requiring Proof of Specific Intent
Conversion Intent to exercise dominion and control over another’s property
Trespass to Land Intentional interference with land of another

State of mind becomes particularly relevant when the courts decide on the punitive damages to be awarded in torts cases. Where punitive damages are asked, the state of mind of defendant is the only issue. The purpose of the award of such damages is to punish the defendant for his willful, wanton or malicious conduct.

1.1 Intent
For the purposes of deciding intentional torts cases, intent is essential and not purpose or motive. The position of the law is that a wrongful act done intentionally provides for an actionable claim, regardless of bad purpose or a motive to injure or cause harm . The rationale behind this principle is that one can be said to know the consequences of his actions, and hence is assumed to have intended them. Once intention is proved, the purpose or motive is
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Direct evidence of intent (for example, an admission from the accused or admission from a party-opponent) is very rare. In the vast majority of cases, litigants must attempt to prove intent by inference through circumstantial evidence.

A party may testify in his own behalf as to his good-will and lack of ill-will, where malice is an essential element, and the testimony is material. Thus, in Van. Sickles v. Brown , a malicious prosecution suit, the court held that the defendant could testify that he acted in good faith and had no ill feelings toward the plaintiff. A party to a suit may always testify as to the intent with which he did an act when it is material to the issues to determine what his intention was.

Proving intent is usually a matter of connecting different pieces of evidence, such as e-mails, internal memorandums, public statements and the recollection of participants who attended meetings. Other sources of proof frequently include undercover officers, bugs, telephone call logs, text messages, emails, and evidence of other crimes. In civil cases, it is important in formal discovery to request documents and ask questions targeted to elicit these types of

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