One may often wonder what is the difference between a tort and a crime? It is pivotal for a law student as well as for lawyers to decide which case falls under the category of crime and which case falls under the category of tort. Finding its answer doesn’t require any meticulous study. Though there are countless differences between a tort and a crime, in this article we will discuss some of the main differences betweeen them.
Tort and Crime Distinguished
To understand the difference between tort and crime, first we need to understand what is a wrong? Generally stating, a wrong is a violation by one individual, of another individual’s right. Wrongs are balkanised into two categories (a) private wrongs and (b) public wrongs. In former one, there is an infringement and violation of legal rights belonging to individuals which affects only an individual and not the whole society and in latter there is a violation of rights belonging to whole public which affect the whole community. This is the first difference between a tort and a crime. Tort consists of cases which involves private wrongs i.e violation of legal rights belonging to individuals. For instance if I trespass your house, I would violate the legal right and the consequence of which will affect only you. It doesn’t affect any other person or the society. On the other hand in crime cases of public wrongs are involved i.e violation of rights belonging to whole public which affect the whole community. Such wrongs affect the whole community. For instance, if I murder someone, this act won’t only affect the person who has been killed but it will also affect the whole society as it will arose a feeling of insecurity among all the people regarding their life.
Since tort is a private wrong, the injured person himself has to file a case in court of law to seek remedy. On the other hand, as crime is a public wrong and it affects the people at large, the proceedings against the wrongdoer can be brought by the state instead of by the victim. Also in tort one the injured party alsways has an option of compromise with the wrongdoer and he/she may withdraw the case filed by him anytime. While in crime except in offences mentioned in Section 320, CRPC, 1973 the law doesn’t permit any type of compromise or settlement between the victim and the wrongdoer.
In case of tort, justice is given to the injured party by way of compensation The idea behind giving the compensation is to make good the losses suffered by the plaintiff and to place him in the same position he was before the wrongdoing. On the other hand, in crime the justive is met by punishing the offender and imprisoning him to prevent him from committing further offences inimical to society.
There are mainly five differences between a tort and a crime. (a)Tort involves private wrongs i.e violation of rights that affects only an individual while crime involves public wrongs i.e violation of rights belonging to whole public which affect the whole community.
(b)In tort, suit can only be filed by the injured party while in crime suit can be filed by the victim as well as by the state.
(c) In tort, parties are free to compromise at any stage while in crime out of court of settlement or compromise, is not permitted.
(d) In tort, justice is met by compensating the injured party, while in crime, justice is given by punishing the wrongdoer.
(e) In tort the main idea is to make good the loss and place the injured party in a condition that he was before the happening of wrongful act while in crime the main idea is to prevent the offender from committing another crime inimical for society.