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Last edited 19 Jan 2021
The term ‘delict’ (Latin ‘delictum’ – something showing fault) is one that centres around the notion of a wilful wrong under civil law – a wrongful act that is either intentional or constitutes a negligent breach of duty of care, as a result of which loss or harm has been inflicted on a third party. Further, the wrongdoer is legally liable for the act committed.
Because a delict is a civil wrong (as opposed to a criminal wrong), the wrongdoer may, if found guilty, be required to pay damages to the party whose interests have been harmed. For a criminal wrong, the wrongdoer may be punished by a custodial sentence or community service. NB It is also possible to commit a criminal and a civil wrong by the same act.
Delict – similar to ‘tort’ in English law but wider in scope because its adverse consequences may be considered as affecting the whole community – is used in Roman law, Scots law and other civil legal systems such as those in France, Germany and South Africa.
The term 'quasi delict' is used to refer to a negligent act or omission committed without malice, though not legally excusable, which results in harm or damage to an individual or to the property of another. For example, an individual who neglects the affairs of the community when their duty was to attend to them may be punishable and liable under civil law in the same way as if the act or omission was intentional.
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