Vi et armis
Trespass vi et armis was a kind of lawsuit at 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...

 called a 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...

. The cause of action alleged a trespass upon person or property vi et armis, Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 for "by force and arms." The plaintiff would allege in a plea
In legal terms, a plea is simply an answer to a claim made by someone in a civil or criminal case under common law using the adversary system. Colloquially, a plea has come to mean the assertion by a criminal defendant at arraignment, or otherwise in response to a criminal charge, whether that...

ding that the act committing the offense was "immediately injurious to another's property, and therefore necessarily accompanied by some degree of force; and by special action on the case, where the act is in itself indifferent and the injury only consequential, and therefore arising without any breach of the peace." Thus it was "immaterial whether the injury was committed willfully or not."

In Taylor v. Rainbow, the defendant negligently discharged a firearm in a public place and caused the loss of the plaintiff's leg. The defendant was held to be liable for medical bills as well as lost earnings as a result of the disability. Thus, proof that the act or omission was unintended was no defense to an action of trespass vi et armis and the liable party would pay for all consequent damages.

Recovery for damages for a trespass vi et armis were limited only to the direct consequences of the act or omission causing the injury. For instance, the state of West Virginia
West Virginia
West Virginia is a state in the Appalachian and Southeastern regions of the United States, bordered by Virginia to the southeast, Kentucky to the southwest, Ohio to the northwest, Pennsylvania to the northeast and Maryland to the east...

 reported that monetary loss for detention from business as an indirect result of the injury were not recoverable under an action for trespass vi et armis, but were available under the related action of trespass on the case
Trespass on the case
The Writs of Trespass and Trespass on the Case are the two catchall torts from English Common Law, the former involving trespass against person, the latter involving trespass against anything else which may be actionable...

, (also known as an action ex delicto "against the wrong."

Trespass vi et armis was a precursor to many other forms of lawsuits at common law. The cause came to be formulaic and in many cases fictitious. For instance, a lawsuit against a defendant had spoiled wine with salt water required an allegation that he had done so with bows and arrows. The ancient courts at common law developed trespass upon the case as an alternative pleading to causes of action which arose neither from force nor weapons. In modern times, the specific formalities of the distinction between the two have dropped in favor of notice pleading or code pleading and actions for negligence
Negligence is a failure to exercise the care that a reasonably prudent person would exercise in like circumstances. The area of tort law known as negligence involves harm caused by carelessness, not intentional harm.According to Jay M...

, battery
Battery (tort)
At common law, battery is the tort of intentionally and voluntarily bringing about an unconsented harmful or offensive contact with a person or to something closely associated with them . Unlike assault, battery involves an actual contact...

, trespass to chattels
Trespass to chattels
Trespass to chattels is a tort whereby the infringing party has intentionally interfered with another person's lawful possession of a chattel...

, and conversion
-Economy and Finance:* Currency conversion or exchange rate* Conversion , one of the options strategies* Economic conversion-Law:* Conversion , conversion by taking a chattel out of the possession of another with the intent of exercising a permanent or temporary dominion over it, despite the...


The related phrase of, contra pacem regis, "against the King's peace
Queen's peace
The Queen's peace is the term used in the Commonwealth realms to describe the protection the monarch, in right of each state, provides to his or her subjects...

" was necessarily not a required element of trespass vi et armis although it was possible for both allegations to appear in a lawsuit when the intentional use of force or weapons breached the peace.
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