Legal Maxim

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Literal Meaning

An act of God causes legal injury to no one.




When an event is caused by the effect of nature without any human intervention, it is called ‘an act of God.’ No one is responsible for the inevitable accidents. The act of God prejudices no one. The law does not hold a man to a legal duty where he is prevented from performing it by an act of God. The event foreseen cannot be considered as an act of God. If nature’s act was foreseeable and a person’s negligence led to an accident, the judge can give a verdict for the negligence on part of that person. Foreseeable means an event leading to the loss, caused by forces of nature that could not have been prevented by reasonable care or foresight.


Two parties enter into a contract for the supply of cotton in another country through the ship. However, the seller to the contract could not deliver the goods due to a tsunami in that region. Now the question arises whether the buyer claims damages from the seller in this case? The answer is ‘No.’ The reason for the failure on the part of the seller to deliver goods to the buyer was not because of negligence on part of the seller but because of the tsunami which is considered as a natural disaster and an Act of God. Therefore, the defendant (seller) can take the defence of Actus Dei Nemini Facit Injuriam to evade liability.

Case Law

In Shridhar Tiwari vs U.P. State Road Transport, a bus of UPSRTC was traveling through a village where a cyclist out of nowhere had suddenly come in front of the Bus. In order to save that cyclist, the driver applied brakes as a result of which the Bus skidded on the wet road and its rear portion struck against the front portion of another bus. Here the defendant was not held liable at it was a sheer case of an inevitable accident.

In R.A. Arunachala lyer v. C. Subbaramiah, a Bench of the Madras High Court has held, “It is not right in cases of this kind that the man should have his case disposed of without being heard. The Courts are here so that people who have cases can have those cases heard and determined, and it should never be the intention of the court that a man should be deprived of a hearing unless there has been something equivalent to misconduct or gross negligence on his part or something which can be put right, so far as another side is concerned, by making the man blame pay for it.

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