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Malicious interference with the rights of others

We may deal with this tort of malice under three heads;

  1. Rights of business, occupation, etc.
  2. Rights of franchise.
  3. Rights to an exclusive office or dignity.

Rights of business, occupation

The law recognizes the right of every person to endeavour to acquire property by carrying on any lawful business or occupation; and every interference with the right without lawful excuse is a tort, such as driving the plaintiff's tenants from their holdings by menaces, or preventing people by the use of threats and intimidation from trading with the plaintiff's vessel in a foreign port1), or from dealing with the plaintiff's shop, or from sending their children to the plaintiff's school, or placing obstructions and impediments in the way of the exercise of the right of free access to a man's place of business.2)

Where the plaintiff is the owner of a decoy for catching wild fowl, and the defendant wilfully fires off guns near the decoy and frightens wild fowls away from it, he is liable.3)

Rights of franchise

If the officer conducting the election, maliciously infringes the right to vote at an election for a public office, or to be a candidate for the same, he will be liable, but not if he has acted honestly and to the best of that judgment and discretion which it is his duty to exercise.4)

Rights to an exclusive office or dignity

The invasion of an exclusive right to an office or dignity to which emoluments are attached, will be a ground for an action.5)

No action will, however, lie to vindicate a right, not to an office, but to mere dignity unconnected with any fees, profits, or emoluments.6) The usurper of a dignity is guilty of a wrong which is, to a certain degree, prejudicial to every one who has a just title to the dignity; and the manner in which such a wrong is to be redressed must depend upon the municipal laws of each particular country. There may be no remedy, except by application to the executive Government, to punish the usurpation, or there may be a remedy to everyone whose dignity is lowered by the usurpation in a right of action against the usurper.7)

The Countess of Cowley, the wife of Earl of Cowley, a, peer, having obtained a dissolution of marriage, married a commoner, and continued to use the name of Countess Cowley. Earl Cowley applied for an injunction to restrain her from using the style or title as being an invasion or disturbance of the dignity which belonged to him as an incorporeal hereditament. Held, that the Court has no jurisdiction to grant an injunction.8)

Tarleton v. McGowley
Bell v. Midland Ry.
Carrington v. Taylor
Ashby v. White
Kamalan v. Sadagopa
Gossain Doss v. Gooro Doss
Sri Sunkur Bharti v. Sidha Lingayah
Earl Cowley v. Countess of Cowley

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