What Are Intentional Torts?

As defined under Canada’s Common Law, a tort is an unlawful act committed by an individual that causes another person physical, mental, emotional or financial harm or loss. A tort can be classified as a criminal or a civil offence depending on the intent of the tortfeasor and the unfairness of the means used to harm the injured party.

The Canadian Tort Law is divided into two main categories based on the resolve of the tortfeasor -Intentional, when the wrongdoer intents to harm the injured party, and Non-Intentional, when the wrongdoer accidentally or negligently harms another person. Depending on the intent of the tortfeasor, the charges of the offence can be determined. Common examples of intentional torts are assault and battery.

Here’s a closer look at key intentional torts:


An assault is one of the most common intentional torts. It can be charged as a civil or a criminal tort depending on the intent of the offender and the state of consent. An assault is committed when a person threatens the safety of another individual, physically, mentally or emotionally.


A battery is committed when an offender applies force on another individual without their consent with an intention to do harm. Assault and battery may seem similar torts due to the nature of their action. However, a battery transpires only when the offender establishes physical contact with the victim while an assault can be viewed as an attempted battery in most cases. Both these torts, are classified under personal injury law and can lead to legal action against the offender.

False Imprisonment

False imprisonment is defined as confinement without legal authority. A tortfeasor commits false imprisonment when he restricts the freedom of movement of another individual. A false imprisonment can be further classified into false arrest. However, a false arrest occurs at the time of arrest when an officer of law detains an individual without the appropriate authority. While a false imprisonment can be committed by anyone when they detain somebody without their consent.


Deception of any kind that harms another individual can be classified as a fraud. Due to the scope of its classification, it is one of the most difficult to define intentional torts. Cons, misinterpretations, scamming, misquoting which may be done with an intention to do harm to the victim can be classified as a fraud.

Invasion of Privacy

Similar to the tort of fraud, invasion of privacy is a broadly interpreted offence which can be divided into four different categories:

  • Invasion of solitude
  • Public disclosure of classified information
  • Publication of false or inaccurate facts
  • Appropriation of identity or information

A common example of invasion of privacy is the infringement of Intellectual Property (IP) of an individual or a business.

Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress

An Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress (IIED) is committed when an offender engages in ‘outrageous or extreme’ behaviour or conduct which causes extreme emotional distress to the victim. Claims regarding IIED can be difficult to defend for the victim as it is a complex tort to verify.

Other common intentional torts include trespassing and defamation. To understand these offences better and take legal action against a repeated offender, consult our legal experts today.