My school's problem questions in the exam for tort are mixed topics, so I'm finding it difficult to even filter out what topic each part of the question concerns:
Late one evening, arsonist Ralph breaks into his business partner, Jeff’s house, in a fit of rage over a disagreement at work. Such was his anger that he steals Jeff’s treasured ballroom dancing trophy and, before fleeing the house, burns pictures of Jeff and his wife in their winning dance routine. Jeff smells smoke, runs to safety and grabs a cricket bat with which he chases Ralph, eventually bashing him on the head in the front garden, removing the treasured trophy from his grasp. Jeff faints after this ordeal due to inhaling smoke from the fire.
Whilst all this was happening, Mark was walking home past Jeff’s house. Concerned that someone might be trapped in the fire, Mark dashes into the house to look for trapped victims. Alas, Mark is seriously burned, succumbs to smoke inhalation, and passes out inside the house but is rescued shortly afterwards by firemen. The local police, headed by PC Bob, then arrive on the scene. Knowing that Jeff is the owner of the house, Bob orders that both Mark and Ralph be kept under police guard whilst they are in hospital, being suspected of arson and burglary.
While doctors are treating Mark in his unconscious state, they decide to give him a full check-up as a precautionary measure. They are concerned that a lump on his leg might be cancerous and so they undertake emergency exploratory surgery. Thankfully the lump is not cancerous. When he wakes up, Mark is alarmed to find himself in hospital and under arrest. He protests to the attending police officer Wendy that he is entirely innocent and that this must be a case of mistaken identity. Wendy calls PC Bob who tells her that Mark is free to go, since Ralph is now their prime suspect. Wendy is not sure about this and decides that she should continue to monitor Mark’s movements. She thus sits by his bed while he recuperates over the next 2 days, before he is discharged. Mark suffers great distress due to Wendy’s presence. After he returns home, Mark is unable to return to work for three months as a result of crippling stress. Mark is a highly paid barrister and loses a string of cases and clients due to his predicament.
Advise the parties of their liabilities in tort.
J v R:
trespass to land: breaking into his house
burning his photos: property damage, trespass to goods (conversion).
stealing trophy: trespass to goods (direct interference).
are there no cases for trespass to goods? my school didnt give any cases..
R v J:
J bashing R on the head: trespass to person, battery.
M v R: does M have a claim against R for starting the fire? i'm not sure...M did voluntarily try to save people in the house and his injury (stress, may amount to psychiatric injury; cannot work so may have claim for economic loss), but seems too remote based on causation?
M v doctors: trespass to person for checking him up, issue of consent.
M v Wendy: trespass to person, lawful or unlawful detention. may be able to claim for economic loss?
Am I missing anything else? can you please clarify which ones i've mentioned are or are not issues?
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