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Difference between Tort and Criminal Law – 8 Major Differences Explained | Business Law

Difference between Tort and Criminal law

➨  A tort case and a criminal case are two distinct branches of law that serve different purposes and address different types of wrongdoings.

➨ While both involve civil wrongs, they differ in terms of the parties involved, the burden of proof, the remedies available, and the overall objectives.

Throughout this explanation, we will discuss the differences between tort law and criminal law in detail.

Tort Law:

➨ A tort is defined as a civil wrong committed by a person or organization to harm or injure another person or their property. Some of its characteristics are as follows:

Tort Law

Parties Involved:

➦ In tort law, private parties, such as individuals, corporations, and organizations, are usually the involved parties.

➦ The injured party, called the plaintiff, seeks compensation from the defendant, who is accused of wrongdoing.

Burden of Proof:

➦ Plaintiff must prove that the defendant’s actions or omissions were negligent or intentional and that these actions directly caused harm or injury in order to be able to prove their claim.

➦ As a rule of thumb, in tort law, the plaintiff must prove his claim by a “preponderance of the evidence,” which means the evidence presented must be more likely than not to support his claims.

Types of Wrong:

➦ There are many different types of torts included in tort law, such as negligence, intentional torts, strict liability, defamation, trespass, product liability, and nuisances. Each must be proven by the plaintiff.


➦ Tort law is primarily a law that compensates the injured party for the harm or injury they suffered. The most common form of tort compensation is money compensation, known as damages.

➦ Various types of damages can be awarded, including medical expenses, pain and suffering, income loss, property damage, and emotional distress.

➦ It is possible to seek non-monetary remedies in some cases, such as injunctions or specific performance.

Role of State:

➦ States play a crucial role in tort law by providing a legal framework and judicial machinery to resolve disputes between parties.

➦ They do not prosecute wrongdoers but rather facilitate the civil litigation process between parties.

Criminal Law:

➦ Criminal law, on the other hand, focuses on crimes committed against society as a whole. It punishes the wrongdoer rather than compensating the victim.

Some of the characteristics of criminal law are as follows:

Criminal Law

Parties Involved:

➦ In criminal law, the parties involved are usually the state or government, and the individual who has been accused, is called the defendant.

➦ The prosecutor brings charges against the defendant on behalf of the state.

Burden of Proof:

➦ In criminal law, the burden of proof lies with the state. The prosecutor must establish the defendant’s guilt “beyond a reasonable doubt.” This is a higher standard of proof than is required by tort law.

Types of Offenses:

➦ There are many types of crimes classified by criminal law, including murder, theft, assault, robbery, fraud, drug offenses, and white-collar crimes.

➦ Each offense requires specific elements, which the state must prove.


➦ Criminal law aims to punish wrongdoers for their actions as a primary objective. If the defendant is found guilty, he or she may face fines, probation, community service, jail time, or even death.

➦ In addition to deterring future criminal behavior, these penalties protect society and promote justice.

Role of State:

➦ In criminal law, the state plays a central role in prosecuting and punishing offenders.

➦ Law enforcement agencies and the justice system are responsible for investigating crimes, gathering evidence, and bringing cases to court. It is the state’s responsibility to maintain law and order and protect society.

Differences between Tort Law and Criminal Law

Some of the differences between Tort Law and Criminal Law are as follows:

Differences between Tort Law and Criminal Law


➦ The primary purpose of tort law is to compensate people for harm or injury they have suffered, whereas the primary purpose of criminal law is to punish and protect society against criminals.

Parties Involved:

➦ In tort law, the injured party seeks compensation from the alleged wrongdoer, who is a private individual or entity.

➦ As the prosecuting party in criminal law, the state represents society’s interests and seeks to hold the accused person responsible for their actions.

Burden of Proof:

➦ Tort law places the burden of proof on the plaintiff, who must prove the defendant’s negligence or intentional actions and the harm that resulted from those actions.

➦ Criminal law places the burden of proof on the state, which must show beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty.

Standard of Proof:

➦ Tort law requires a preponderance of evidence, which means the plaintiff’s claims are more likely than not to be supported by the evidence.

➦ In criminal law, proof beyond a reasonable doubt is required. This is a higher standard that requires near certainty of a defendant’s innocence.

Nature of Offense:

➦ A tort is a civil wrong that occurs when one party’s actions cause harm to another party.

➦ In criminal law, the state represents society’s interests in prosecuting wrongdoers who commit crimes that are harmful or dangerous.

Penalties and Remedies:

➦ In tort law, the injured party is compensated with monetary damages, whereas criminal law punishes the offender by fines, imprisonment, probation, and other penalties.

Legal Process:

➦ Typically, tort cases are resolved through civil litigation, where both parties present evidence and arguments in court.

➦ Criminal cases are resolved through law enforcement investigations, arrests, charges, and trials.


➦ Criminal law requires proof of intent because many crimes require proof of a guilty mind or criminal intent. In tort law, intent may or may not be relevant, since negligence or unintentional actions can also result in liability.

➦ Both tort law and criminal law address civil wrongs, however, their purposes, parties involved, burdens of proof, remedies, and overall objectives differ.

➦ While tort law provides compensation to the injured party, criminal law punishes the wrongdoer and protects society by punishing the wrongdoer.

➦ To navigate the legal system and ensure that appropriate legal remedies and actions are pursued in response to civil wrongs, it is crucial to understand these differences.

Bijisha Prasain

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