A civil wrong or wrong is a cause of action under civil law. Types include tort, breach of contract and breach of trust.[1]

Something that amounts to a civil wrong is wrongful. A wrong involves the violation of a right because wrong and right are contrasting terms.[2] An 1860 legal ruling stated that: "It is essential to an action in tort that the act complained of should under the circumstances be legally wrongful as regards the party complaining; that is, it must prejudicially affect him in some legal right".[3]

The law that relates to civil wrongs is part of the branch of the law that is called the civil law.[4] A civil wrong can be followed by civil proceedings.[5] It is a misnomer to describe a civil wrong as a "civil offence".[6] The law of England recognised the concept of a wrong before it recognised the distinction between civil wrongs and crimes in the 13th century.[7]

See also


  1. ^ Williams (1982), pp. 9–10.
  2. ^ Clerk (1989), para. 1–14 at p. 12.
  3. ^ Rogers v Rajendro Dutt (1860) 13 Moo P C 209, 9 WR 149, 15 ER 78, quoted in House of Lords, Watkins (Respondent) v. Home Office (Appellants) and others, [2006] UKHL 17.
  4. ^ Williams (1982), p. 2.
  5. ^ Williams (1982), p. 3.
  6. ^ Williams (1982), p. 4.
  7. ^ Phillips (1960), pp. 207, 208, 213.

Further reading

  • Clerk, J. F. (1989). Clerk and Lindsell on Torts (16 ed.). Sweet & Maxwell. ISBN 9780421377608.
  • Phillips, O. Hood (1960). A First Book of English Law (4 ed.). London: Sweet & Maxwell.
  • Williams, Glanville (1982). Learning the Law (11 ed.). London: Stevens. ISBN 9780420463005.