Skip to 0 minutes and 5 secondsPROFESSOR: Meet Tony Trespasser. Tony is delivering advertising material to houses on Normal Street. Tony's hoping he can catch some people at home because he'd really like to talk to them about the services he's promoting rather than just leaving a pamphlet in their letter boxes. At Number 31, Normal Street, the gate is open, so he walks up their path to the front door. Is he trespassing on their land? At Number 33, the gate is closed, but it's not locked. He opens it and proceeds up their path to the front door. Is Tony trespassing on their land? At Number 35, the gate is definitely locked. However, it's not very high, so he jumps over it and proceeds to the front door.

Skip to 0 minutes and 49 secondsIs he trespassing on their land? At Number 37, there's a sign at the front gate that says no advertising material. He doesn't leave the advertising material as requested. But since the gate is open, he decides to knock on the front door in case someone's home. No one answers the door, so Tony pops his pamphlet away and walks back down the garden path. Is he trespassing on their land? As he's leaving Number 37, he spies a rather interesting looking small ceramic frog in the front garden and he walks over to take a better look. He picks up the frog and decides he might even take it with him. He pops it in his bag, hoping he isn't seen.

Skip to 1 minute and 32 secondsIs Tony trespassing against goods? Would it have made a difference if Tony didn't take the frog, only picked it up just to look at it ever so briefly? Private Percy was at home, it turns out. And he did see Tony in his front yard taking the ceramic frog. Private Percy opens his front door and runs up to Tony, yelling at him and shaking a raised fist right up close to Tony's face. Has Percy committed a tort? Percy carries through with his threat and pushes Tony. Has Percy committed a tort? Tony doesn't really like being pushed, and not far away from where they're standing, Tony spies an open door to a front yard shed.

Skip to 2 minutes and 17 secondsSo he pushes Percy back and into the shed, closing the door on him. He stands a shovel up against the door knob so that Percy can't even get out. Inside the shed, Private Percy tries to open the door, but he can't. He doesn't know what to do. There isn't another way out. Has Percy been falsely imprisoned? After a short time, Tony removes the shovel from under the door handle figuring Percy can leave now whenever he likes, as there's nothing stopping the door from opening. And Tony leaves the property. But Percy doesn't know that the shovel has gone. He's slumped down on the floor thinking he's still stuck in the shed. And he stays there for hours.

Skip to 3 minutes and 0 secondsOn the way home, Tony spies a couple of university students who were having an afternoon nap under a tree. They're probably having a well-earned study break. He creeps up and gently places the ceramic frog in the open hand of one of them. So it looks to him as if one is offering the ceramic frog to the other as a gift. The students don't wake up, so he leaves them be and continues on his way. Has Tony committed a tort?

Case study 1: Tony Trespasser

Watch the “Tony Trespasser” for examples of everyday situations that may include different types of torts.

Talking point

Within the Comments, consider sharing with other learners your thoughts on the situations faced by Tony in the case study:

  • At 31 Normal Street the gate is open. Tony walks up the path to the front door. Is Tony trespassing on the owner’s land?

  • At 33 Normal Street the gate is closed, but not locked. Tony opens the gate and walks up the path to the front door. Is Tony trespassing on the owner’s land?

  • At 35 Normal Street the gate is locked. Tony jumps the fence and walks to the front door. Is Tony trespassing on the owner’s land?

  • At 37 Normal Street the gate is open and there’s a sign at the front gate that says ‘No advertising material’. Tony knocks on the front door in case someone is home. Is he trespassing on the owner’s land?

  • Tony spies a ceramic frog in the front garden of 37 Normal Street and decides to take it with him. Is Tony trespassing against goods? Would have it made a difference if Tony didn’t take the frog and only briefly looked at it?

  • Private Percy, the owner of 37 Normal Street saw Tony take the ceramic frog and rushes up to Tony shouting and threatening him. Has Percy committed a tort?

  • Percy pushes Tony. Has Percy committed a tort?

  • Tony doesn’t like being pushed around, so he forces Percy back into a shed, closes the shed door on him and then places a shovel against the door handle to prevent his escape. Has Percy been falsely imprisoned and has Tony committed a tort?

  • Tony removes the shovel from under the door handle thinking Percy will leave the shed when he likes as there’s nothing stopping the door from opening. Percy doesn’t know the shovel has gone and that he can now escape the shed. Has Tony committed a tort?

  • Tony leaves Percy’s property and spies two students sleeping under a tree. He places the ceramic frog in the open hand of one of the sleeping students and then continues on his way. Has Tony committed a tort?


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This video is from the free online course:

Law for Non-Lawyers: Introduction to Law

Monash University