Trespass to the Person
In most societies, protection of an individual’s bodily integrity is likely to rank high on the agenda of interests considered worth protecting. It is perhaps understandable, therefore, that one of the earliest remedies provided by English law was for forcible wrongs against the person. Such wrongs were remediable by commencing an action using a writ of trespass. The writ of trespass emerged in the thirteenth century. It originally existed in a semi-criminal form and if the defendant did not appear to answer the writ he would be outlawed while, if convicted, he was liable to a fine or imprisonment in addition to being liable to the plaintiff in damages. However, by the end of the medieval period the tort action had shed its criminal characteristics. In the civil law the writ of trespass dealt with direct interference with the person in three types of case which correspond to the modern torts of assault, battery and false imprisonment.
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