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Torts - Battery

Figueiras v. Toronto (Police Services Board) (Ont CA, 2015)

In this case the Court of Appeal commented briefly on the elements of the tort of battery as follows:
[142] The tort of battery is committed whenever someone intentionally applies unlawful force to the body of another (Norberg v. Wynrib, 1992 CanLII 65 (SCC), [1992] 2 S.C.R. 226, at p. 246). There is no requirement to prove fault or negligence (Non-Marine Underwriters, Lloyd’s of London v. Scalera, 2000 SCC 24 (CanLII), [2000] 1 S.C.R. 551, at paras. 8-10). Nor is there a requirement to prove damage or injury (Norberg, at p. 263). Relatively simple acts can constitute a battery, such as restraining a person by grabbing their arm (Collins v. Willock, [1984] 1 W.L.R. 1172 (Eng. Div. Ct.), at p. 1180), or maliciously grabbing someone’s nose (Stewart v. Stonehouse, 1926 CanLII 114 (SK CA), [1926] 2 D.L.R. 683 (Sask. C.A.), cited in Scalera, at para. 16).

[143] However, not every act of physical contact is a battery. As the Supreme Court has put it, battery requires “contact ‘plus’ something else” (Scalera, at para. 16). That is, there must be something about the contact that renders that contact either physically harmful or offensive to a person’s reasonable sense of dignity (Malette v. Shulman (1990), 1990 CanLII 6868 (ON CA), 72 O.R. (2d) 417 (C.A.), at p. 423).

[144] The classic example of non-actionable conduct is tapping someone on the shoulder to get that person’s attention, or the regular jostling that occurs in any crowded area. Something more than that is required to constitute a battery.

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