Summary Business Organisation & Law, chapter 5
The meaning of the term “wrongful (unlawful) act” (tort): states that someone who commits a wrongful act unto another, shall be responsible for the compensation of the resulting damages. A wrongful act can be defined as doing or neglecting to do something which is contrary to either written or unwritten law.
A ‘wrongful’ act tells us that wrongful conduct can arise under three situations:
1. Violating someone else’s right
When someone drops a vase belonging to someone else, she violates the other’s right of ownership. Copying a book, song or movie without proper consent, namely their copyright.
2. Doing or neglecting to do something contrary to a statutory obligation
This category usually involves some sort of criminal act, such as theft, abuse, destruction of property. Anyone who commits a criminal act may therefore have to deal with both the criminal sector of the court, as well as the civil sector where the victim demands compensation based on wrongful act.
3. Doing or neglecting to do something which is contrary to either written or unwritten law.
This case deals with situations (consisting of an action or an omission) which are contrary to unwritten law. The wrongful behavior itself is not in direct violation of any statutory right or provision, but the actor is acting contrary to a duty to exercise due care. Examples include unfair competition, industrial espionage or causing unnecessary danger. Whether or not something is in violation must be decided on a case by case basis by the judge.