Private Defense – Law of Torts – Notes

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Private Defence – The law permits the use of reasonable force to protect one’s person or property. The use of force is justified only when there is an imminent threat and is absolutely necessary to repel the invasion. The force applied should be in preparation to threat.

Bird v. Holbrooke (130 ER 911 ) – Defendant set up a spring-gun trap in his garden in order to catch an intruder who had been stealing from his garden. Defendant did not post a warning. Plaintiff chased an escaped bird into the garden and set off the trap, suffering serious damage to his knee. The court held that one who sets traps without posting a notice is liable for any damages caused.

Ilott v. Wilkes (3 Barn. & Ald. 304) – Plaintiff was hurt by the spring gun planted on defendant’s land after having been warned by the landowner of it. The plaintiff was not awarded damages as there was a warning indicating of the possible threat.


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