Posted on: November 4, 2020 Posted by: admin Comments: 0

Author : Saman Nadeem, Student at Siddhartha Law College.


Damnum Sine Injuria a legal maxim which means damage without injury. The concept is dealt under the Law of Torts. Torts provide damages to the people who have suffered legal injury, the cardinal point is that people have suffered legal injury. There are three conditions to claim that someone would be liable under tort law: – [1]

  • Act or omission on the part of the defendant.
  • Due to such act or omission the legal right of plaintiff was affected.
  • Such act or omission lead to claiming legal remedy.

And further this is based on the two legal maxims, Damnum Sine Injuria and Injuria Sine Damnum, the later maxim means injury without damage, which means when there is infringement of legal right but as such there is no damage caused by such infringement. Even when there is no damage caused due to infringement of legal right, the plaintiff would be liable to get damages because his legal right was violated. [2]

Gloucester Grammar School case deals with the issue that whether it would fall under this maxim i.e. Damnum Sine Injuria, i.e. when damage has been caused but there has been no violation of legal right. In the cases coming under this maxim, no damages are being awarded as there is no violation of legal right. A wrong which is simply morally wrong cannot be punished, because moral principles vary from people to people and any law cannot be based upon discretion of people. So, only those acts are punished which is legally wrong.


The defendant was the teacher, who was earlier teaching in Gloucester Grammar School, had some dispute at the school and he left the school and opened his own school and even reduced the fees from 40 pence (which was charged in Gloucester Grammar School) to 12 pence.[3] Also, due to the fame of the defendant in previous school the students left the old school and joined the new school of the defendant. Thus, leading to loss in the business of plaintiff i.e. the older grammar school. After this the employees of Gloucester Grammar School i.e. the plaintiff sued the master for trespassing their franchise and demanded for damages against the monetary loss caused due to him by opening school in that area.


The issue raised under this case was: –[4]

  • Does the defendant is responsible for the loss which is suffered by the plaintiff by establishing the new school in its rivalry and damaged the right of the plaintiff?
  • Does this case cover the essentials of maxim Damnum Sine Injuria?

In this case, the court held that the defendant who opened the rival school would not be held liable for paying any damages to the plaintiff i.e. the Gloucester Grammar School. Though there has been damages to the plaintiff because of the defendant, but still the plaintiff would not be getting any damages suffered by plaintiff.[5]

 Also, this case does cover the essentials of maxim Damnum Sine Injuria, which means when there is damage but there is no infringement of legal rights. In this case also, there was damages caused to Gloucester Grammar school due to the act of defendant but still the defendant did not violate any of the legal right of the plaintiff, thus fulfilling the essentials of Damnum Sine Injuria and exempting him from paying any damages for act which was not legally wrong. As everyone has right to choose its profession and just on moral basis of one the other cannot be denied of his legal right.


On the maxim at which the judgement is based, was basically established to ensure that punishment is given only for those wrongs which are legally not correct and not for the wrongs which are morally wrong for the people. No doubt that the act of the defendant was morally wrong but it did not affect any of the legal right of the plaintiff. The defendant had some issues with the school and he left the school on this ground and maybe his act of opening rival school was with the motive of causing damage to the plaintiff, but still he could not be held liable for this act. But at the same time if this case would have happened in India and after the year 2002 then maybe the court would have held the defendant liable for his act, as we have Competition Act 2002 which may be could make the defendant liable for setting the fees of school at 12 pence when the fees of plaintiff school was 40 pence, which was way too less. But at the same time, we cannot ignore the fact that one cannot be held responsible for the moral wrongs, also each individual has right to choose its profession and no one can debar the person from doing so until and unless provided by the law. Also, it was a bona fied competition as per the judgement and one cannot stop others from raising competition against them in the market. The law of torts basically focuses on providing damages to the people who have been wronged at the same time it also takes care of the fact that in the sake of providing the damages the right of the other does not get violated or the wrong is not being committed against the other.

Establishing this case as the precedent many other judgements had been given under the same principle which was laid in the judgement, one such case is H.R Krishnamurthy Vs. State of Karnataka and others,[6] case was related to liquor shop in the Anantapur Village, one of the issue raised by the petitioner was that opening one more liquor shop in the village of such small size would lead to a lot of competition and thus leading to monetary loss to the petitioner, the court by giving the reference of Gloucester Grammar School held that the plaintiff cannot debar defendant from establishing competition, also the plaintiff had failed to bring any such law into court’s notice which debars the competition. And on these ground and others the plaint was dismissed by the court.

So, after going through all these facts and judgements I could easily say that this maxim acts as the savior for many people, otherwise people would run in punishing others just for the acts which they cannot justify morally. I belief that the judgement given by the court in regard the Gloucester Grammar School, was totally correct, one cannot be punished for exercising his rights. The court focused and sticked to the literal meaning of the maxim instead of twisting it and interpreting it according to the case, because something which is morally wrong for me could be morally right for the other person. So, it is vey essential that the person establishes that his legal right has been infringed, otherwise this would lead to making everyone liable for some or the other damages caused to people. In our daily life we do so many things which are though not legally wrong but is subsequently wrong in moral aspect, even we consider it morally wrong, but if we are made to pay for such wrongs then instead of progressing, we would be moving backward. A lawyer defending the criminal is morally wrong but when we see it professionally it is considered as the legal right of each criminal to get himself defended. So, the principle is to maintain an equilibrium between the wrong done to one person and protection of right of the other person.








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