Definition of delict
From Latin delictum (“fault”), from neuter of delictus, past participle of delinquo (“to be lacking", "to fail", "to transgress”)
delict (plural delicts)
civil law, Scottish law) A wrongful act, analogous to a tort in common law. [from the early 16th c.]
- (law) The branch of law dealing in delicts.
In civil law, a delict is an intentional or negligent act which gives rise to a legal obligation between parties even though there has been no contract between them. Due to the large number of civil law systems in the world, it is hard to state any generalities about the concept. Moreover in some civil law countries (e.g.: Italy, Spain etc.) delicts are most serious crimes, similar to felonies in common law countries, whereas in other states (e.g.: France, Belgium, Switzerland etc.), they are crimes of intermediate seriousness (less serious than those termed crimes).
Delict as a willful wrong
In the most narrowly construed sense, delict is a Latin word (delictum = offence, wrong) and a legal term, which, in some civil law systems, signifies a willful wrong, similar to the common law concept of tort though differing in many substantive ways. The law of delicts in civil law countries is usually a general statute passed by the legislature whereas tort law in common law countries arises from case law. In addition, a delict is defined abstractly in terms of infringement of rights whereas in common law, there are many specific types of torts.
Delict deals with the righting of legal wrongs in civil law, on the principle of liability for loss caused by failure in the duty of care, whether deliberate or accidental. When considering pursuing a claim under delict, in Scots law, there are three criteria that have to be met; firstly you have to establish that you were owed a duty of care, secondly you have to prove that that duty of care has been breached and lastly you have to show a causal link between the breach of care and the loss you have suffered.
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