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Law Notes Tort Law Notes

Laws 301 Lecture Notes False Imprisonment Notes

Updated Laws 301 Lecture Notes False Imprisonment Notes

Tort Law Notes

Tort Law

Approximately 368 pages

Highly comprehensive notes covering all topics in Torts to the Person (part 1), Property based Torts (part 2), and Negligence (part 3)...

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Torts to the Person 2

Trespass to the person 2

False Imprisonment 2

Total restraint 2

Bird v Jones (1845) 7 QB 742 2

Robinson v Balmain New Ferry Co [1910] AC 295 2

Willms v Kaluza [2011] DCR 62 3

Collins v Wilcock [1984] 1 WLR 1172 at 1177 per Robert Goff LJ 3

Walker v Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis [2015] 1 WLR 312 3

Coles Myer Limited v Webster [2009] NSWCA 299 4

Meering v Graham-White Aviation Co Ltd (1919) 122 LTR 44 4

Strict Liability 5

R v Governor of Brockhill Prison, Ex p Evans [2001] 2 AC 19 5

Unlawful Restraint (i.e. no lawful justification) 5

Blundell v Attorney-General [1968] NZLR 341 5

Intention to Restrain 7

R v Governor of Brockhill Prison, Ex p Evans [2001] 2 AC 19 7

Thompson v Attorney-General [2014] NZAR 1282 7

Coles Myer Limited v Webster [2009] NSWCA 299 9

Torts to the Person

Trespass to the person

Lecture 18: (05/05/20)

False Imprisonment

Where a person is being held in prison contrary to law.

  • Any unlawful form of total restraint of the plaintiff against their will.

Another form of trespass to the person is false imprisonment, which is the unlawful imposition of constraint upon another's freedom of movement from a particular place. – Collins v Wilcox [1984] 1 WLR 1172 at 1177 per Robert Goff LJ

Total restraint

False imprisonment is the unlawful total restraint of the liberty of a person. It may be but is not necessarily brought about by force or the threat of force… Force or the threat of force is not the gist of the cause of action… Applying again the tests of the purposes of the Accident Compensation legislation and the natural and ordinary use of language, we have come to the conclusion that false imprisonment as such is outside the purview of the Act. In ordinary speech we do not think that it would be said of anyone who had been detained as the plaintiffs claim to have been that he or she had suffered personal injury by accident. – Willis v Attorney-General [1989] 3 NZLR 574; [1990] NZAR 60

  • Not concerned with personal injury (ACC), but concerned with restraint.

Bird v Jones (1845) 7 QB 742

Identifies a distinction between simply obstructing someone and total restraint.

  • Plaintiff had gate crashed a street party and is told that he cannot proceed up the street and must go back the way he came

  • Lord Denman in dissent – does not agree that it will not be a restraint just because there is means of escape.

Majority in Bird v Jones held there was no imprisonment:

“if one man compels another to stay in any given place against his will, he imprisons that other just as much as if he locked him up in a room.”

  • It is not necessary for someone be touched to constitute an imprisonment

  • Compelling someone to go in a certain direction against their will may amount to imprisonment.

  • Merely obstructing the passage of another leaving them with the liberty to stay or go in any other direction does not amount to imprisonment.

Robinson v Balmain New Ferry Co [1910] AC 295

Plaintiff had paid a penny to go through a turnstile to catch a Ferry:

  • Once he gets to the other side but before he catches the ferry, he changes his mind and wants to get out the way he came in

  • To get out, he also had to pay a penny.

  • Plaintiff argued that making him pay a penny to get out was imprisonment.

Court rejected plaintiff’s claim – he had a reasonable means of escape and could have gone on the ferry in his originally intended direction.

  • There was no imprisonment.

Willms v Kaluza [2011] DCR 62

Plaintiff’s wrists were tied together, under a blanket.

  • Having just beaten the plaintiff, three men were taunting him, telling him he could leave if he desired

Court found that plaintiff did not move – it was as if he was nailed to the spot:

  • Terror inspired by the three men was sufficient to operate as a restraint – plaintiff was effectively imprisoned.

Collins v Wilcock [1984] 1 WLR 1172 at 1177 per Robert Goff LJ

Defendant (police officer) grips plaintiff’s arms to stop them from leaving:

  • There was total restraint, even if it was only present momentarily.

[22] Robert Goff LJ – detention can be used in more than one sense:

  • Requesting someone to stop and speak – not unlawful, even if the person who is stopped is influenced by the fact the stopper is a uniformed police officer with authority.

  • If an officer reinforces their request with the use of force or threats of force without power of arrest, this would be unlawful assault.

Here, there was no arrest – the Police woman was trying to ask questions and had grabbed hold of the complainant.

Walker v Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis [2015] 1 WLR 312

Police reacted to domestic violence call-out and had the plaintiff blocked in a doorway for 2 minutes:

  • There was no touching or use of force

  • The question was whether he was restrained

  • In the lower Court, the judge held that the restraint was brief and trivial because it was so short.

The English Court of Appeal held that there were no good reasons for Walker’s detention and confinement in that the police’s actions were not generally acceptable to ordinary citizens:

  • The Constable had positioned himself in such a way as to prevent the claimant escaping – to ensure that the claimant was not free to leave.

It is not acceptable for an ordinary citizen to interfere with a person’s liberty by confining him or her in a doorway. Although the confinement was for only a few seconds, the principle in question is framed in terms of “for however short a time”… – at [30]

  • Where liberty is in question, there is no room for complaisance.

  • Restraint need not be physical – any threatened consequences that make the plaintiff feel obliged to stay put is enough.

Court accepted that the period the complainant was restrained would have been longer if he had not tried to fight his way out:

  • Once he is arrested, there is no possibility of unlawful restraint.

Coles Myer Limited v Webster [2009] NSWCA 299

Two men were stopped and searched by police because manager of local Kmart had falsely...

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