Injuria sine damnum

This maxim means infringement or violation of a legal private right of a person even if there is no actual loss or damage. In such a case the person whose right is infringed has a good cause of action. It is not necessary for him to prove any special damage. The infringement of private right is actionable per se. What is required to show is the violation of a right in which case the law will presume damage. Thus, in cases of assault, battery, false imprisonment, libel etc., the mere wrongful act is actionable without proof of special damage. The court is bound to award to the plaintiff at least nominal damages if no actual damage is proved.

Thus, this maxim provides for,

(1) infringement of a legal right of a person.

(2) no actual loss or damage is required to prove.

(3) infringement of a private right is actionable per se.

In Ashby Vs White, the plaintiff was a qualified voter at a Parliamentary election, but defendant, a returning officer, wrongfully refused to take plaintiffs vote. No loss was suffered by such refusal because the candidate for whom he wanted to vote won the election. Plaintiff succeeded in his action. Lord Holt, C.J., observed as follows, “If the plaintiff has a right he must of necessity have a means to vindicate and maintain it, and a remedy if he is injured in the exercise or enjoyment of it, and indeed it is a vain thing to imagine a right without a remedy, for want of right and want of remedy are reciprocal”. “Every injury imports a damage, though it does not cost a party one penny and it is impossible to prove the contrary, for the damage is not merely pecuniary, but an injury imports a damage, when a man is thereby hindered of his right. As in an action for slanderous words, though a man does not lose a penny by reason of the speaking of them, yet he shall have an action. So, if a man gives another a cuff on his car, though it costs him nothing, not so much as a little diachylon (plaster), yet he shall have his action. So, a man shall have an action against another for riding over his ground, though it does him no damage, for it is an invasion of the property and the other has no right to come there.”

In Municipal Board of Agra Vs Asharfi Lal, the facts are, the plaintiff (Asharfi Lal) was entitled to be entered as an elector upon the electoral roll. His name was wrongfully omitted from the electoral roll and he was deprived of his right to vote. It was held by the court that if any duly qualified citizen or person entitled to be on the electoral roll of an constituency is omitted from such roll so as to be deprived of his right to vote, he has suffered a legal wrong, he has been deprived of a right recognised by law and he has against the person so depriving him, a remedy, that is, an action lies against a person depriving of him of his right.

Similarly, in Bhim Singh Vs State of J&K, the petitioner, an M.L.A. of Jammu & Kashmir Assembly, was wrongfully detained by the police while he was going to attend the Assembly session. Thus, he was deprived of his fundamental right to personal liberty and constitutional right to attend the Assembly session. The court awarded exemplary damages of Rs. Fifty thousand by way of consequential relief.

An action will lie against a banker, having sufficient funds in his hands belonging to the customer, for refusing to honour his cheque, although the customer has not thereby sustained any actual loss or damage (Marzetti Vs Williams Bank)