Innes v Wylie – Case Summary

Innes v Wylie

High Court

Citations: (1844) 1 Carrington and Kirwan 257.


The claimant tried to enter a room in a hotel to attend a society’s meeting. The defendant, wrongly believing the claimant to have been expelled from the society for threatening behaviour, instructed a policeman to block his path. When the claimant tried to force his way past the policeman, the policeman pushed him back. The claimant sued the defendant for instructing the policeman to assault him.

  1. Had the policeman assaulted the claimant?

The judge instructed the jury that if the policeman had actively pushed the claimant, there was an assault. If, on the other hand, the policeman had acted as a passive obstacle, akin to a door or wall, there would be no assault. The jury held that there had been an assault.

This Case is Authority For…

The judge’s directions to the jury in this case indicate that it is not possible to commit assault or battery purely by omission.