Tuberville v Savage – Case Summary

Tuberville v Savage

High Court

Citations: 86 ER 684; (1669) 1 Mod 3


The defendant got into a verbal dispute with the claimant. The defendant told him that if it were not ‘assizes time’ (a time when medieval judges were in the local area hearing criminal cases) he would ‘not take such language’. The defendant’s hand was on the sword at his hilt at the time. The claimant sued the defendant for assault.

  1. Can words negate an assault?

The court held for the defendant: there was no assault.

This Case is Authority For…

Words can negate an assault. Even if the defendant’s behaviour appears threatening, a verbal declaration that he will not be violent can negate that threat.


The principles in this case are equally applicable to the criminal law offence of assault, as well as the tort of assault.