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Return to Street on Torts 15e student resources

Chapter 10 Guidance on answering the end-of-chapter problem questions

Trespass to the person and related torts

Both the agent and Zain might be thought of having made threats which were conditional in nature (the agent holding up the wrench so that he could hit Zain if Zain tried to strike him, and Zain implying a battery if the electricity were not turned back on) – so there was no inevitability of unlawful contacts with the body: see Tuberville v Savage. In the circumstances, the courts might have difficulty in finding a requisite element of assault because there was no reasonable expectation of an imminent contact. The pursuit by Zapper of Zain in order that he pay his bills could amount to harassment under the 1997 Act. However, the courts might refrain from holding that the arrival of the agent to turn off the electricity and the two demands for payment were themselves harassing – because harassment is conduct which causes alarm of distress: s 7(2). The conduct has not yet reached a threshold of oppressiveness: Hayes v Willoughby. However, there seems little doubt that Zain was unlawfully detained when at the Zapper Electricity branch. This is because there was an intentional act of detention that directly confined Zain to a particular place and there was no reasonable means of escape.