The study on topic conspiracy will give us an idea about, the infringement in
law of tort or torts. For torts there is no codified law but in IPC conspiracy
is stated as offence in the section 120 A & 120 B. Law or law of tort or torts.
On daily basis we face many kinds of tortious activity, some can bring criminal
action and some are civil wrong. The paper is going to deal with one of this
kind of tortious activity. This activity not only come under civil wrong but, it
also comes under criminal wrong and for that reason it holds special position in
law of torts, i.e., Conspiracy
The paper in detail talks about the
conspiracy, remedies available against the wrongdoer or action or legal action
that can be taken against the wrongdoer. The paper in deals with different types
of conspiracy, and how every different types of conspiracy have their different
provision in laws and how different conspiracy differ in itself. The paper also
talks about different case laws, about the land mark judgements, and how they
play very crucial role. The paper also talks about some case laws that plays
role of precedents. After reading this paper we will easily be able to
differentiate between the conspiracy in torts and in criminal law. The paper
will also be going to deal about different types of conspiracy in both the field
of law i.e., law of torts and in criminal law.
Conspiracy can be defined as when two or more than two people join together to
perform any illegal or unlawful activity which could further leads to violation
of someoneís legal right or any kind of physical damage. Now the most important
question that arises in our mind is that whether conspiracy comes under law of
torts or inside criminal law. Whether it is a civil wrong or criminal wrong. The
main stumble recognizing the act of conspiracy as a tort is the confusion about
the cause of action. In such cases the cause of action is unclear of can not be
Criminal law is codified but law of tort or torts is not. So, In IPC the act of
conspiracy is mentioned in section 120A and 120B. After reading the above line
we could establish a very small doubt as why both tort and torts and what is the
difference between them? Basically, Winfield defined tort as Tort
because he believed that every civil wrong comes under Law of tort.
gave a very different and unique definition which is known as Salmondís Pigeon
hole theory in which he stated that there are numerous torts historically
mentioned and when any wrongdoer infringes that norms than the act could be
considered wrong in law of ĎTortsí. Members who make conspiracy are known as
conspirators. It is not necessary to carry out the whole act for which the
conspiracy was created or planning was done. If any of the conspirators acts or
perform any of the activity which is connected to the conspiracy is treated as
Conspiracy can be defined as a secret plan by more than one person to do
something illegal or unlawful. Letís understand an illustration to make a clear
and compact understanding of the word Conspiracy.
Suppose there are 5 friends naming A, B, C, D, E and they are
planning to do something. In which A, B, C accepted that they are ready to rob
the bank. Friends D, E didnít say anything but they appeared in every meeting
that were conducted for the planning of the robbery. So, we can say that D, E
are admitting to be a part of the robbery. We can say that A, B, C are expressly
agreeing and D, E are implicitly agreeing to rob the bank. Which therefor
creates an agreement between them in which A, B, C are explicitly involved and
D, E are implicitly agreed. So, we can conclude that 5 of them together intent
for bank robbery. After that they meet at Aís house to plan a robbery so our
first and main condition of conspiracy is fulfilled in this manner that more
than to person agree together for doing an illegal task or unlawful act. Now
they decided to arrange all the equipment for bank robbery, firstly they visited
to check the security cameras and then they pooled money for arranging masks and
guns as they are the most important assets for the accomplishment of the
robbery. So, all the friends are appearing in every meeting. So, this is what we
Understand by the word Conspiracy.
Now conspiracy can be divided into two parts, Criminal Conspiracy and Conspiracy
in Law of Torts.
- Criminal conspiracy is covered under section 120A and 120B of the IPC.
- Definition of criminal conspiracy (section 120 A)
When two or more persons agree to do, or cause to be done:
- An illegal act
- An act which is not illegal by illegal means, such an agreement is
designated a criminal conspiracy:
Provided that no agreement except an agreement to commit an offence shall
amount to a criminal conspiracy unless some act besides the agreement is
done by one or more parties to such agreement in pursuance thereof:
it is immaterial whether the illegal act is the ultimate object of
such agreement, or is merely incidental to that object.
Section 120 B state that:
Punishment of criminal conspiracy:
- Whoever is party to a criminal conspiracy to commit an offence
punishable with death,
- Imprisonment for life or rigorous imprisonment for a term of two years
or upwards, shall, where no express provision is made this code for the
punishment of such a conspiracy, be punished in the same manner as if he had
abetted such offence.
- Whoever is a party to a criminal conspiracy other than a criminal
conspiracy to commit an offence punishable as a aforesaid shall be punished
with imprisonment of either description for a term not exceeding six months,
or with fine or with fine or with both.
2.Subs. by act 26 of 1955, s. 117 and Sch., for transportation.
Ingredients of the Offence of criminal Conspiracy:
To prove criminal conspiracy which is punishable under section 120B
- An agreement between two or more persons
- The agreement must relate to doing or causing to be done either:
- An illegal act
- An act which is not illegal in itself but is done by illegal means.
- The agreement maybe express or implied, or in part express and in part
- The conspiracy arises and the offence is committed as soon as the
agreement is made.
- And the offence continues to be committed so long as the combination
- That is until the conspiratorial agreement is terminated.
Conspiracy in Law of Torts
Before understanding the conspiracy in law of torts lets first understand, what
is law of torts?
- There must be direct or circumstantial evidence
- To show there was an agreement.
- Between two or more persons to commit an offence.
Law of torts can be understood by the definitions written by many influential
- Winfield- Tortious liability arises from breach of a duty primarily
fixed by the law: this duty is towards persons and generally and its breach
is redressable by action for unliquidated damages.
- Fraser Ė It is an infringement of a right in rem of a private individual
giving a right of compensation at the suit of the right of compensation at
the suit of the injured party.
*In rem-it means in against of someone
- Salmond- It is a civil wrong for which the remedy is a common law action
for un liquidated damages & which is not exclusively the breach of a
contract or breach of a trust or other merely equitable delegation.
After reading these definitions we can conclude 3 things that are important in
understanding the Torts.
- Civil Wrong
- Breach of Duty
- Infringement of Right in law.
A Conspiracy is an unlawful association of two or more than two persons, to do
any act which is not legal according to the law of land or to do something
harmful towards another person or to carry out an act not in itself unlawful,
but by unlawful means.
For understanding more letís try to understand with the help of an
Suppose there are 4 friends Mr. Q, Mr. W, Mr. E, and Mr. R. After a very big
argument Mr. Q, Mr. W, and Mr. E decided to do some fraudulent act which could
violate the rights of Mr. R as that was the prime target of the three friends.
The above illustration shows us the presence of more than two friends and also
the presence of act which they want to perform which could violate the rights of
Now, let us understand the essentials of Conspiracy under Law of Torts or Civil
Having an intention to harm is the foremost and the most essential essence to
become any wrong a civil wrong. There must be a common intention from all the
parties that agree to harm any person. The degree of intention could defer from
person to person but the intention should be there.
Ideally, individuals never act upon anything with the same motive but the crux
of the conspiracy theory is to analyse the predetermined purpose for which the
above conspiracy or planning was committed
If the intentions are not converted in the action than no case will going to be
presented in the court and no one can sue someone for their imaginary intention.
So, we can conclude that conversion of intentions is also a prime factor of
conspiracy to be in acted as crime.
Now let us understand this with an Illustration:
Suppose, there are 3 friends Mohan, Shyam and Rohan Mohan and Shyam start a
business which is harming the business of Rohan. In the above we can say that
there was no intention of Rohan and Shyam but their act was harming Rohan. But
This case will not be going to get consideration in the Honíble court as there
was no motive and intention.
It refers to the no. of persons involved it the act of false planning that is
conspiracy. There must be more than 2 persons involved and their intentions and
action must match.
There could be a condition where more than 2 persons could have same intention
but they act separately. This is not considered as conspiracy as action together
is most important essentials. There must be a mutual agreement.
Now let us understand this with an Illustration:
Suppose Shyam entered Raviís house for attempting robbery but at the same time
Ram also entered the house with the same motive of attempting robbery.
In the above case we can conclude that whether the intentions are same but the
Action on the above intensions are not mutually decided so it didnít result to
Another essential is that there must be an over act which is acted by the
defendants which causes or caused harm to the accused person. It is not
necessary that whole planned conspiracy should be fulfilled for the punishment
even a single step towards the completion of conspiracy could amount to the
For the overact to be considered as essential, it is necessary that one of the
contributors have acted for the fulfilment of the intension behind the
Thus, for a conspiracy to be considered as a civil conspiracy, it is necessary
that one of the conspirators has acted in furtherance of the plan.
Now, let us understand this with an Illustration:
Suppose 4 friend decided to harm someone but they didnít perform any of the
This is not a case of conspiracy. But if anyone of them started to in act the
plan then it must be a case of Conspiracy.
Like planning a robbery is not a crime but implementing a planned robbery is a
crime under both conspiracy and robbery or theft.
Types of Conspiracy Under Torts
Now, we weíll going to discuss the different types of Conspiracy under Law of
- Conspiracy to injure
- Unlawful Means Conspiracy
A general conspiracy is a situation in which more than two people perform an act
which is violating the rights of any person or harming the accused physically.
In other words, we can say that it is a situation when 2 or more than 2 persons
comes into an agreement which is intended to harm someone physically or
violating its legal rights.
When 2 persons agree to perform any activity, which is illegal in the law is
known as general conspiracy.
Conspiracy to Injure
This kind of conspiracy is also known as ĎCrofterí Conspiracy, as this doctrine
has emerged in the case of Crofter Hand Woven Harris Tweed Co Ltd v Veitch. It
was laid down in this case that when an association is formed by people with the
sole purpose of inflicting damage upon someone, which would otherwise be lawful
even if committed by one person with an intention of causing harm.
It is a type of conspiracy in which the sole motive of the parties is to harm
Now let us understand it with an example:
If two people, suppose X & Y are doing some act in pursuance of their business
for expanding their business and increasing their gains but also end up injuring
someone. In such cases, if there was no intention to harm the injured person,
then the act is not actionable in the eyes of law.
Unlawful Means Conspiracy
This type of tort involves an agreement between two or more than two parties.
Wherein, at least one of them agrees regarding using unlawful means against the
Letís discuss an important case:
Rotas Industries vs Rotas Industries Staff Union
The facts, in this case, were that the workmen of the two industrial premises
went on a strike. The Strike mentioned above was illegal under Section 23 r/w
Section 24 of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947. Now, the question which came
before the Supreme Court was that if, the workmen are liable to pay the
compensation for the losses incurred by the management during the strike period.
The Court stated that the object of the strike was not to inflict any injuries
or damages to industrial establishments. Although the act of strike would be
considered as conspiracy, it was not actionable.
There are two elements of this type of conspiracy:
The Intention of the Defendant
- The intention of the Defendant
- Unlawful Means
This type of conspiracy does not require any predominant intention to injure the
claimant. However, the intention need not be predominant in this case but, the
claimant must have suffered damage as a result of the act.
The damage to the claimant must be treated as an essential cornerstone while
determining the liability of the defendant or the accused.
Unlawful means are the acts or the conspiracy of such acts that would be
wrongful and actionable under the Tort Law. Even those acts are considered in
this category which would have been of criminal nature if committed by a single
If these two elements are proved to be present in an act, then such an act would
be considered as ĎUnlawful Means Conspiracy
- Ajay Agarwal vs. Union of India and Oars (JT 1993 (3) SC 203),
In the above case the Honíble court of justice mentioned that it is not
necessary that every participant of the Conspiracy must know all the facts about
But to agree for a particular motive together is important.
In the above case defendant was held liable as he accepted the offer by his
friend for planning some illegal act.
Planning some illegal act itself is known as conspiracy.í
He stated that he was not known to every fact thatís why his punishment should
be less than that others.
But the court gave the same punishment in the case of conspiracy but the court
considered this fact while giving judgement regarding the real offence.
- Crofter Hand Woven Harris Tweed Co. Ltd vs Veitch 15 December, 1941,
Parliamentary Archives, HL/PO/JU/4/3/966.
This case laid down the concept of Conspiracy to injure. This type of
conspiracy is also known as Crofter conspiracy, the name of the conspiracy was
coined after this case only.
In the above case it was found that conspiracy is not limited till violating
of legal rights or harassing somebody mentally but conspiracy could be
planned for harming somebody physically too.
- A remarkable was judgement was given ion another case of Mogul Steamship
co. VS Mc Gregor 1892, AC 25.
IN the above case it was coined that conspiracy could also be planned for
injuring the economic condition of the persons.
In the above case Company was the plaintiff and they were the prey of conspiracy
which was reducing the profit that they can attain so the honíble court Accepted
there complain and they held that any conspiracy which is just made for harming
someone personally economic or in physical way it is a conspiracy of injure in
the eye of Law.
- Sorel vs Smith
The plaintiff, who was a retail newsagent, used to take his newspaper from R.
He withdrew his custom from R, and started taking newspaper from W. The
defendants, who were the members of a committee of circulation managers of
London Daily papers, threatened to cut off the newspaper supply to W, if he
continued to supply newspapers to the plaintiff. The plaintiff filed an action
against the committee. The defendants were held not liable, since they had acted
in this way to increase their own business interests.
Their main objective was not to harm the newsagent i.e., plaintiff so they canít
be held liable.
- Huntley vs Thornton
There was a call for strike by a workerís‟ union. The plaintiff, a member of the
union, refused to comply with the unionís call for strike. The defendants, the
secretary and some members of the union, wanted the expulsion of the plaintiff
from the union, but the executive council of the union decided not to do that.
The defendants then, out of spite against the plaintiff, made sure that he
remained out of work. In this case, the acts of the defendants were
predominantly intended to injure the plaintiff because of their grudge. The
defendants were held liable and the plaintiff was entitled to recover damages.
- Revenue and Customs Commissioners v. Total Network SL
A person A in country X contracted to sell goods to B in
country Y. B then sold the goods to C and C paid VAT for it.
B then disappeared without
paying revenue for the VAT earned by him and C resold the goods to A and
reclaimed his VAT before the Revenue discovered the disappearance of B. In
this case, conspiracy to injure could not be proved, because the predominant
purpose of the combiners was not to injure, but to gain profit. But the unlawful
means conspiracy was applicable here and they were held liable for the tort of
conspiracy of the nature of unlawful means conspiracy.
The concept of law of torts was emerged from the colonial rule. That means the
concept of torts came in our country from England. There are many differences in
between our countryís law of torts and other countryís law of torts as because
of the wide range of culture and social system that is present in our country.
After reading many cases and mentioning them in my paper I can conclude that Law
of torts of our country need to get develop in our country as the prime reason
is because it needs to get codified and also in our country punishment of the
wrong gets more support rather than compensation of loss to the accused.
A conspiracy is defined as the planned unlawful deed that is commenced by two or
more than two persons to carry out their objective to infringing the legal right
or injuring them physically or with any other means. Commencement of the act is
not important in law of torts for recognizing it as conspiracy but if any person
even start the decided conspiracy by committing the initial action for the
accomplishment of the conspired act than the people who organised the conspiracy
can be held liable.
The only problem that I see in the conspiracy is that if there are 3
conspirators and if case does not stand against two of them than 3 party cannot
be trailed under the light of laws as the essential of conspiracy is not held in
Also, the bunch of evidences is the most important thing in the conspiracy. If
the Motive, Place of planning and the different criteria are not satisfied than
no one can be able to proof the conspirators guilty and they can get rid to the
case very easily. The most important thing in proofing the conspiracy is that
it is necessary for the plaintiff to prove the common intension, which is one of
the most difficult tasks to accomplish.
There is also a risk of claims being made in conspiracy, where a business is
carried on, or a transaction made, in the knowledge that financial loss thereby
will be inflicted upon a competitor, where there is some illegality involved,
either under criminal or tort law. To what extent must subjective knowledge be
shown of such illegality?
If a person knows all the facts showing unlawful means
but he does not realize the means are unlawful, is this sufficient for the tort
of conspiracy? This is a difficult question on which there are different dicta.
Those who deliberately breach the law, tort or criminal, in commercial activity
may find themselves being sued in economic tort for substantial sums, by
competitors, where there is some nexus between the illegal means and loss
caused. Therefore, tort conspiracy in India requires many reforms and enactments
to make it more ascertainable.
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Alliance School of Law,
Alliance University, Bangalore