Cole v Turner [1704] 6 Mod Rep 149

The relevance of the mental element in the tort of Battery


The case concerned an action brought before the court for trespass and battery. The Claimants were a husband and wife, both of who had allegedly suffered battery by the Defendant.


The issue in this case was the connection between anger and the tort of batter. The question was whether any touching could amount to battery or whether there had to be an element of aggression involved.


It was held that anger was a relevant element to the tort of battery and that accidental touching would not amount to battery. At the same time even a light touch could be converted to battery through the existence of anger.

“the least touching of another in anger is a battery. If two or more meet in a narrow passage, and without any violence or design of harm, the one touches the other gently, it is no battery. If any of them use violence against the other, to force his way in a rude inordinate manner, it is a battery; or any struggle about the passage, to that degree as may do hurt, is a battery.” (Holt CJ)