Appraisal Of Trespass As A Tortious Action Under The Law Of Tort

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Appraisal Of Trespass As A Tortious Action Under The Law Of Tort


There is no branch of law which transpires the true picture of the society more than the law of tort. The reason being that it is a branch of law that deals with the conduct of the people amongst themselves. Because of the contact people have with themselves in the environment, there are bound to be fiction which will bring about injuries or wrong whether direct or in indirect and for this reason, the law of tort is put in place to compensate persons harmed by the wrongful conduct of others.

One of the major aspects of tort is Trespass. The term trespass has been used in different senses by Lawyers and laymen but the most acceptable of all is that Trespass is the unlawful interference with one`s person, land, and chattel. The law of trespass seeks to protect or compensate it`s victim and its bases is the prevention of breaches of peace. Trespass can be classified into three types namely; Trespass to Person, Trespass to Land, and Trespass to Chattel.

Trespass to person is any direct and immediate interference with personal liberty which is actionable parse and it comprises of Battery, Assault, and False Imprisonment. Trespass to land is the entering upon another person`s land without permission whether forcible or not. Trespass to land can be by wrongful entry, remaining on land, placing things on land, and trespass above and beneath the surface of land. Trespass to chattel us a direct and wrongful interference in the possession of another. Conversion and Detinue come under trespass to chattel and there is no doubt that there are differences between the two even though they seem similar.

This research work seeks to examine the principles of law applicable to Trespass to person, Trespass to land, and Trespass chattel which form the major classifications of Trespass with a view to enlightening the general public. Moreover, there are cases where a person may seek to justify his actions. Such justifications in law are known as defences. These defences shall be examined in the course of this research work.

Chapter Five

General Conclusion

5.0.0: Conclusion

Chapter one of this work acquitted us with reasons why the researcher embarked on this research work and explained what the researcher intended to do in the subsequent chapters .It was examined in this chapter that trespass has a long historical antecedent which is traceable to the common law of England as early as the 13th Century and it is applicable to Nigeria by virtue of The Interpretation A ct Of 1989.

Chapter Two examined Trespass to Person .In this chapter, Battery, Assault, and False Imprisonment were identified as the three components that make up Trespass to Person. For an action in Trespass to Person to succeed, the Plaintiff has to prove that the act by the Defendant was without his consent and that such act was direct and physical. One of the findings of the researcher was that Battery does not necessarily have to be a hostile act .

Moreover; it was found that to point an unloaded gun at someone is an actionable Assault because there would have been a reasonable fear induced at the Plaintiff and this is what Assault is about. For there to be an actionable False Imprisonment, the restraint must be complete and unlawful. It was discovered in the course of the research that an action for false imprisonment can be sustained even where the claimant is unaware of such imprisonment .Defence of Person or Property, defence of Consent and defence of lawful arrest were examined as the defences available under an action for trespass to Person.

Chapter three of this work covered Trespass to Land. This can be by wrongful entry, remaining on land, placing things on land and trespass above and beneath the surface of land. One of the findings in this work is that Self-help constitutes a valid defence as held by Aniagolu JSC in Umoobi v Otukoya Defence of Licence and Justification by Law were examined as the two major defences available in an action for trespass to land.

Chapter Four dealt on Trespass to chattel and this covered both Conversion and Detinue. Conversion as examined above can be by taking, using, destroying, and by wrongful transfer of title. Abandonment of Goods before it was taken by the Defendant, Delay in bringing action. Consent, Authority of Law, Interest of the Defendant and the value of the Goods are the major defences available under an action for trespass to Chattel. It is pertinent to mention at this junction that any form of trespass as discussed above, that is, Trespass to Person, Trespass to Land and Trespass to Chattel are all actionable parse. .

5.1.0: Recommendation

Owing to the critical analysis of the topic under discourse, the researcher deem it expedient to make the following recommendations since the major aim of this research is to enlighten the general public in clear and unambiguous term as to what trespass is. It is a known fact that a large number of People do not know what trespass is and therefore cannot appreciate this tort. It is on this basis that the researcher humbly recommend that Government at all level should embark on a vigorous public enlightenment programmes to the citizenry to enable them to properly understand and appreciate the purpose for the tort of trespass which is to prevent any form of interference to the person, land, or chattel of another and this stems from the fact that the law of tort encompasses and governs the everyday life of individuals in any community. In line with the above recommendation, the researcher also advocate for the introduction of the law of tort in the Nigeria basic Educational system. That is, at the Secondary School level.

This will help to build a generation of students and teachers who know the rights, when it is breached, and the proper action to take when such rights are breached .There have been so many instances where a person trespassed on the land of another and that other person does not even know that he/she has a course of action and if he/she fails to institute an action, there is nothing the court can do about it and it is on this ground that the researcher strongly recommend that the tort of trespass should be carried into the communities in Nigeria so as to make Law conscious among the people. Knowledge is so important that the two Holy Books admonish followers of God to acquire knowledge. In the Holy Bible, Proverbs 4:7 says `Wisdom is the principal thing, therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding`. In the Prophet tradition, he was quoted to have said `Seek knowledge even if it is as far as China`. The meaning of the above is that one must be enlightened and that one must seek knowledge without restriction. China here was referred to by the prophet because China was not an Islamic country then and thus encouraged to study that far. Furthermore, it was observed in the course of this research work that the few people who have proper knowledge on the tort of trespass more often than not approach the court for the enforcement of their rights when an act of trespass has been committed against them because of what is known as Legal factor. This is in two forms. Firstly, professional fees of lawyers are most times beyond the reach of many and filling fees which must be paid to the purse of the Government before a plaintiff will have the right of audience in court is too much and the consequent of this is that many aggrieved persons even where they know their rights may not have the financial capacity needed and thus, leave justice to God. Secondly, it is a notorious fact that the wheel of justice in Nigeria is generally slow and a case on trespass may take several years in court.

It is therefore recommended that filling fees should be reasonably reduced and there should be a general review of our judicial system to allow for speedy dispensation of cases pending in our courts because it is a viable proposition of law that Justice delayed is justice denied. In view of this it is therefore, expedient that the judicial process be smoothened so as to encourage people to easily go to court when an unlawful interference has been done to their person, land or chattel. In addition, since there are many cases to be tried in the court of law, the researcher will like to recommend that ADR [Alternative Dispute Resolution] should also be equally applied to tortuous actions.ADR is the use of methods such as mediation to resolve a dispute without resort to litigation. At this junction, I will conclude by saying that if these recommendations are carefully applied, the tort of trespass will have a more footing in the society and hence, limit unlawful interferences. I therefore recommend as follows:

  1. That Government at all levels should embark on a vigorous public enlightenment programme with a view to enlightening the public on what Trespass entails.
  2. There should be introduction of the Law of Tort in the Nigeria Basic Educational System because this will help to build a generation of Students and Teachers who know their rights and the appropriate action to take when such rights are breached.
  3. Filling fees should be reasonably reduced so as to allow those who have a cause of action but not financially buoyant to approach the court.
  4. There should be a general review of our Judicial system to allow for speedy dispensation of cases pending in our various courts and there is no doubt that this will discourage people from resorting to self-help.
  5. Alternative dispute resolution should be encouraged in actions for Trespass and this will help decongest the courts

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