CASE COMMENT WRITING
GLOUCESTER GRAMMAR SCHOOL CASE
Hon’ble Judge/ Coram
Justice Y. B. Hillary
(1410) Y.B. Hill 11 Hen, 4 of 47, p. 21, 36.
Petitioner- Gloucester Grammar school
Defendant- Rival school teacher
In this case, there was a school named Gloucester Grammar school in which the defendant used to teach. But after some time due to some internal conflict, the defendant (teacher) left the aforesaid school and in rivalry, he set up his own school in front of the aforesaid school. The plaintiff reduced his fee from 40 pence (which was charged in Gloucester Grammar school) to 12 pence for enticing the students from the old school to a new school. And also due to the easy and explicit method of teaching of the defendant, the students left the old school (Gloucester Grammar school) and joined the new one of the defendant. Thus the old school (Gloucester Grammar school) had to suffer a massive monetary loss. After this the plaintiff i.e. the owner of Gloucester Grammar school sued a file against the defendant (teacher) for trespassing their franchise and demanded damages for monetary loss caused by the defendant’s opening of school in the same area of Gloucester Grammar school was situated.
In this case, basically there were two issues that were raised:
- Does the monetary loss suffered by the plaintiff (Gloucester Grammar school) due to establishment of a new rival school by the defendant can be compensate and the right of plaintiff has been damaged?
- Does this case comes under the umbrella of maxim Damnum sine injuria? And if yes then the plaintiff won’t be liable for the same?
Here in this case as the school teacher who left the old school i.e. Gloucester Grammar school and set up his own school in rivalry with the aforesaid school, leads to the strong monetary loss to the plaintiff i.e. Gloucester Grammar school. So the plaintiff i.e. Gloucester Grammar school strongly opposed this act of the defendant i.e. rival school teacher and sought compensation from the defendant for causing him monetary damage. The plaintiff said that the defendant opened his school with the intention to harm me so it’s a moral wrong for that I should be compensated. But the defendant followed that being this case as an act which caused damage but no private legal rights are infringed or compromised in Latin term is also stated as Damnum sine injuria, which means damage suffered without any legal injury so in the law of tort it doesn’t entitle to the plaintiff for seeking any sort of damages from the plaintiff. Gloucester Grammar school deals with this issue that whether it would come under this maxim i.e Damnum sine injuria means when a sort of damage has occurred but no private legal rights have been infringed. In the law of tort, the cases that come under the umbrella of this maxim are not awarded with any compensation as there is only damage but no violation of any private legal right has occurred. A wrong that is morally, socially, religious is not counted in a legal sense because these may vary from person to person, and law cannot be based upon this discretion of people. So only legal wrong can be punished/ compensated in law.
In this case, the court held that the defendant (a teacher who opened a new rival school) couldn’t be liable to compensate any damage to the plaintiff i.e. Gloucester Grammar school for the monetary losses suffered by him and no sue could be file. Though the plaintiff i.e. Gloucester Grammar school had suffered some monetary losses in fact because of the rival school set up by the defendant but the plaintiff isn’t entitled to get any damages suffered by the plaintiff. Court held that the mere damages to the plaintiff caused by the defendant by any wrongful act if doesn’t violate the private legal right of the plaintiff then the defendant couldn’t be liable for the same. Same occurred in this case as the defendant i.e. school teacher who set up school in rivalry may be a morally wrongful act and in fact it caused monetary damage to the plaintiff but no legal has been infringed of the plaintiff in this way so the plaintiff i.e. Gloucester Grammar school has no right to seek the compensation. According to pronouncement of the concerned court that the defendant (school teacher) set up a new school it is his right to pursue any profession which is legitimate and he did the same there is no violation of any legal rights by setting up this rival school. And the students have the liberty to choose and take get enrolled in any school for their study Whether they stay at the old school i.e Gloucester Grammar school or they went to new school established by the defendant. i.e. School teacher. And this is caused of whether the students went to the new school of teacher because of his sincerity, punctuality and a interesting method of teaching which the students expect from a good teacher or went on the greed of the reduced fee it doesn’t matter. And as the defendant reduced his school charge fee it is his discretionary power to fix any level of amount as his school fee even one has the right to make a cost of study if he is enabled to do so. Court also stated that the appellant has no right to stop any other person to run a his own business in competition of the appellants despite of whether he has suffered any monetary losses because of competition. Finally court pronounced as this case covers the all essentials of the maxim Damnum sine injuria ( damage without injury) so no compensation can be sought or claimed. In Tort law a case related to this maxim is not entitled to sue in a court trial, the court stated that in the legal perception if any wrongful act was done by the defendant lead to any injury to the plaintiff Whether any damages are caused or not must be compensated by the defendant at the time of finalization of the case, thus comes under the contrary maxim(Latin) Injuria sine damno which means injury without damage. In the context of aforesaid maxims, injury refers to infringement of private legal rights.
Finally, on this ground of action, the court held that the plaintiff was not entitled to the compensation. Every person has their own right to pursue any profession, business, and employment, and the existence of competition in the business, the profession is a very common thing and any person suffers any loss because of this competition then in that situation no legal remedy is available for the plaintiff.
In the case of Gloucester Grammar School, the judgment of not holding the defendant liable for setting up a rival school in the same area as that of the plaintiff’s school was in accordance with the ruling of Law of Tort, ‘Tort’ means ‘Civil Wrong’. Law of Torts is assumed to be An instrument to form the people adhere to conduct of reasonable behavior and respect the rights and interests vested with one another. Thus the law of tort acts as the fence for the protection of the legal rights of people. But in the law of tort only wrongful act which are legally wrong made the defendant to compensate the plaintiff and if the plaintiff suffered by any moral, social or religious wrongful act of defendant does not lead to entitlement to the plaintiff to seek the damages from the defendant. The above discussed case is an act where the plaintiff has suffered some monetary damage but in fact no legal rights of the plaintiff has been infringed. This is a clear example of maxim Damnum sine injuria means damage without any legal injury. This maxim was basically established to ensure that the punishment is given only for those wrongful act which are legally wrong not socially or morally wrong for the citizens. No doubt that the defendant did a moral wrong by opening a rival school next of the pre functioning school but it did not infringed any legal rights of the plaintiff. Though the defendant opened a new rival school in front of the Gloucester Grammar school in accordance of some trifles with school, on this ground may be his act of setting up a rival school in front of Gloucester Grammar school was in motive of to causing some damage to the plaintiff, despite of this motive still he could not be held liable for the same act. The decision taken in Gloucester Grammar school was followed in many other cases too. In the case of Chasemore v. Richard’s (1859), In this case the plaintiff was a mill owner running his mill on his own land and for the requirement of the mill he was using water of a stream since a long time. The Deft dug well in his own land and thereby cut off the underground water supply of stream. Through percolation, the water gathered in the well of deft. The quantity of water of the stream was reduced and the mill was closed for non-availability of water. The plaintiff sued deft for the damage caused by. In accordance with of the maxim Damnum sine injuria and giving reference of Gloucester Grammar school case the court did not held liable to the deft.
After going through all above discussions accordingly in my view the decision pronounced by the court in the case of Gloucester Grammar school is whole heartily welcomed by me as we can not punish to anyone for exercising his/her rights. The court focused and followed the literal meaning of maxim Damnum sine injuria without manipulating or twisting it. Because this maxim acts as a saviour for people otherwise they will be punished for the acts for which they could not justify morally or socially. Something which is morally or socially wrong for one person may be well for another person as well. If such provisions have been included in the provision of law then per day several persons would have to pay to another person for an act which demonstrates morally, socially or religiously wrongful for another person of society. And in this way instead of developing there will be chaos and disharmony in the society. An act which may not be legally wrong but subsequently may be any other kind of wrong. As a advocate defend his client who charged with a criminal case is a moral wrong but professionally its not a wrong at all. So at the same time we can not neglect the fact that a person can not be held responsible for a moral or social wrong because each individual has the liberty to choose its own occupation or business without any external intervention of people. Nobody can deprive him/her to do so until and unless provided in the law. And in this case the defendant i.e. school teacher set up his own school lawfully for a bona-fide competition and everybody has the right to raise or reduce the competition according to his will. The law of tort basically deals with the civil wrongs where the main focus is laid down on the violation of the legal rights of plaintiffs, if plaintiff’s legal rights/ right has been infringed whether he has suffered any damage or not he/she is entitle to seek the compensation in the court of law. But here as Gloucester Grammar school case fulfilled all the essentials of maxim Damnum sine injuria (injury without legal damage ) does not entitle to plaintiff to get compensation for the damage he suffered. And the appellant has not the right to debar the defendant from running his lawful business with his own consent. So in my opinion the judgement pronouncement by the Hon’ble court was correct and fruitful.
- R.K. Bangia, Law of tort, (Allahabad law agency, Fareedabad, Haryana 25th edn. 2020)
- Chasemore v. Richard’s (1859) 7 H.C.L. 349.