Tuberville v Savage
Tuberville v Savage [1669] EWHC KB J25 is a famous English decision on the requirements for both the tort
A tort, in common law jurisdictions, is a wrong that involves a breach of a civil duty owed to someone else. It is differentiated from a crime, which involves a breach of a duty owed to society in general...

 of assault
Assault (tort)
In common law, assault is the tort of acting intentionally, that is with either general or specific intent, causing the reasonable apprehension of an immediate harmful or offensive contact. Because assault requires intent, it is considered an intentional tort, as opposed to a tort of negligence...

 and the common law
Common law
Common law is law developed by judges through decisions of courts and similar tribunals rather than through legislative statutes or executive branch action...

 criminal offence of common assault
Common assault
Common assault was an offence under the common law of England, and has been held now to be a statutory offence in England and Wales. It is committed by a person who causes another person to apprehend the immediate use of unlawful violence by the defendant. It was thought to include battery...

. The court held that a conditional threatening statement without an imminent threat of harm does not constitute an assault.


Savage had made some insulting comments to Tuberville. In response, Tuberville grabbed the handle of his sword and stated, "If it were not assize-time, I would not take such language from you." Savage responded with force, causing Tuberville to lose his eye. Tuberville brought an action for assault, battery, and wounding, to which Savage pleaded provocation, to-wit Tuberville's statement.


The Court considered the language used in the statement and found that since Tuberville did not express any intention to do any harm to Savage in the given circumstances. Tuberville's express words were precisely that he was not going to harm Savage because the justices of assize were in town. Therefore there could be no assault
In law, assault is a crime causing a victim to fear violence. The term is often confused with battery, which involves physical contact. The specific meaning of assault varies between countries, but can refer to an act that causes another to apprehend immediate and personal violence, or in the more...

(putting someone in apprehension of immediate violence). There is neither intent nor an act, at least one of which being required to establish an assault. Thus, Tuberville succeeded in his action.

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