The word Tort comes from the Latin expression ‘Tortum’, which means to twist. It includes such conducts, which are not straight or lawful, but are twisted or unlawful. In the broader sense, tort can be said to be equivalent to the English term ‘wrong’.
So far no exact definition of tort has been incorporated and the process of development of this branch of law is still continuing. It is easier to describe tort than to define it. We may define tort as a civil wrong, as opposed to a criminal wrong, which is redressible by an action for damages and which is other than a mere breach of contract or breach of trust
Damages awarded in tort are ‘unliquidated‘ in nature, which means that such amount is not determined previously, but the determination of the same is left to the discretion of the court.
It may also be an act or omission causing harm which the person so acting or omitting to act did not intend to cause, but might and should with due diligence have foreseen and prevented. Further, it may, in some cases, consist merely in not avoiding or preventing harm, which the party was bound absolutely or within limits, to avoid or prevent.
Winfield and Jolowicz– Tortuous liability arises from the breach of a duty primarily fixed by law; this duty is towards persons generally and its breach is redressible by an action for unliquidated damages.
Salmond and Hueston– A tort is a civil wrong for which the remedy is a common action for unliquidated damages, and which is not exclusively the breach of a contract or the breach of a trust or other mere equitable obligation.
Sir Frederick Pollock– Every tort is an act or omission (not being merely the breach of a duty arising out of a personal relation, or undertaken by contract) which is related in one of the following ways to harm (including reference with an absolute right, whether there be measurable actual damage or not), suffered by a determinate person:-
a) It may be an act which, without lawful justification or excuse, is intended by the agent to cause harm, and does cause the harm complained of.
b) It may be an act in itself contrary to law, or an omission of specific legal duty, which causes harm not intended by the person so acting or omitting.
c) It may be an act violation the absolute right (especially rights of possession or property), and treated as wrongful without regard to the actor’s intention or knowledge. This, as we have seen is an artificial extension of the general conceptions which are common to English and Roman law.
d) It may be an act or omission causing harm which the person so acting or omitting to act did not intend to cause, but might and should with due diligence have foreseen and prevented.
e) It may, in special cases, consist merely in not avoiding or preventing harm which the party was bound absolutely or within limits, to avoid or prevent.