Last edited 05 May 2014

Ex delicto

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Ex delicto’ is a Latin term , meaning ‘from a wrong’, ‘from a transgression’ or ‘from an offense’

It refers to legal action for a breach of a duty, arising out of a tort, independent of contract.

Historically, actions in contract and in tort were both derived from trespass, whereas actions for breach of a deed, were based upon an action on the covenant. Actions for breach of contract were based on assumpsit and actions in tort were ex delicto.

In the seventeenth century the courts began to draw procedural but not substantive distinctions between assumpsit and actions ex delicto. These distinctions became substantive differences during the nineteenth century, reflecting the political social and economic philosophy of 'laissez-faire', which emphasised the importance of the legal doctrines of freedom of contract and sanctity of contract.