Discuss the doctrine of Volenti non-fit injuria with decided case and exceptions?
The doctrine of Volenti Non-Fit Injuria expressed by the Latin maxim, meaning thereby that where the plaintiff has consented to a wrongful act, he shall have no right to sue the defendant. Harm suffered voluntarily by the consent of the plaintiff is not actionable. This principle of law generally known as Volenti non-fit injuria.
For e.g- if a man enters my house on my invitation then I cannot take an action for trespass against him.
Condition for the application of maxim volenti non-fit injuria:-
The following are the conditions for the application of the maxim volenti non fit injuria-
1. Consent must be free: –
The defence of volenti non-fit injuria is available to the defendant only when he proves that the consent given by the plaintiff was free, that is without any fraud, compulsion or coercion.
2. Consent may be express or implied: –
Consent in oral or written form is called express while consent by conduct is called implied. The defence of volenti non-fit injuria can also be available in implied consent of the plaintiff.
In Hall vs Brookland’s Auto Racing Clubs.
The plaintiff was a spectator in the defendant’s race club. During the race, there was a collision between two cars and as a result, one of the cars was thrown on spectators and injured the plaintiff. It was held that the defendant was not liable for the injury caused to the plaintiff as he had impliedly consented to suffer the damage which was incidental to such sports.
3. The act must be lawful: –
The act to which the plaintiff gives his consent and undertakes to suffer the risk must be lawful and the method of doing it must also be lawful.
VOLENTI NON-FIT INJURIA, NOT SCIENTI FIT INJURIA
The maxim is not scienti no fit injuria (knowledge implies consent) but volenti non-fit injuria, mere knowledge does not imply consent to take the risk. In the case of Dann vs. Hamilton 1939 1 K.B509, the distinction between “sciens” (knowledge of risk) and “volens” (consent to undertake the risk).
In this case plaintiff “a lady” knowing that the driver of the car was drunk, and the possibility of an accident was more, decided to travel by his car. Due to the driver’s negligence, an accident took place and the plaintiff was seriously injured.
It was held that the plaintiff was entitled to recover damages against the representative of the driver who had died in the incident. Although before riding the car the plaintiff knew that there might be an accident in the state of driver’s intoxication, it did not mean that she had consented to the risk arising out of the negligence of the driver.
EXCEPTION OF THE MAXIM VOLENTI NON-FIT DOES NOT APPLY: –
- Where consent was given under compulsion (Smith vs Bekar 1891)
- Where scienti is not volenti (Dann vs Hamilton 1939 1 K.B. 509)
- Rescue cases (Haynes vs. Harwood 1935 1 K.B. 146)