The tort of battery in Ontario

The tort of battery is committed whenever someone intentionally applies unlawful force to the body of another. There is no requirement to prove fault or negligence. Nor is there a requirement to prove damage or injury. Relatively simple acts can constitute battery such as restraining a person by grabbing their arm or maliciously grabbing someone’s nose.

However, not every act of physical contact is a battery. The Supreme Court of Canada has confirmed that battery requires “contact plus something else”. That is, there must be something about the contact that renders the contact either physically harmful or offensive to a person’s reasonable sense of dignity.

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.

William Poulos, Barrister

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