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The Laws of England, Compiled and translated into the Māori language.


[i roto i te reo Māori]


Another injury which affects a man's good name is a Libel, that is, a written or printed paper put forth to the public containing malicious and defamatory matter. Although it may contain no actionable word, yet if it contain anything tending to injure or degrade a man in the estimation of his fellow men, or to make him the subject of ridicule; whether it be printed or in writing, or a picture; it is a Libel. A Libel is regarded in a twofold light:—as a Civil Injury, and as a Criminal Offence. See List of Criminal Offences, "Libel"57.

Another injury, affecting a man's good name, is by a false and malicious prosecution. The Law gives large compensation for this injury. But the Plaintiff must show that there were no probable grounds for instituting the prosecution, as only in such case can he with propriety sue in a Court of Justice for compensation.

There are four things necessary in order to justify legal proceedings against any person for this injury, that is, for a malicious and false criminal prosecution: these four circumstances must all concur in order to form sufficient ground for an Action.

1.There must have been no probable ground for instituting the prosecution.
2.The accusation must have been false.
3.There must have been malice on the part of the prosecutor.
4.The person prosecuted must have sustained injury in consequence of such prosecution; in his person, by imprisonment; in his good name, which has been aspersed; or in his property, which has been wasted by the expense entailed by such a prosecution.

The injury which affects the liberty of a man, that is, the right which the Law gives him of being master of his own actions, is False Imprisonment.

The Law has decreed a punishment for this, which is a Criminal Offence. It also gives reparation to the person falsely imprisoned, by a Civil Action in a Court of Justice to recover, from the person who inflicted the injury, compensation for any loss sustained in consequence of such imprisonment.

Two things are essential to constitute the injury of False Imprisonment.
1.The detention of the person.
2.Such detention must be contrary to Law.

Any detention of the person is an Imprisonment, whether the place of confinement be a common prison, or a private house; or even a forcible detention in a public road; and it will be called a False Imprisonment, when a person is so confined or detained by another without authority.

We will now speak of those injuries which affect a man individually in his private relations; such as may be done to a person, as a husband, as a wife, as a parent, or as a child.

There are three principal injuries which may be offered to a man as a husband.
1.Unlawfully taking away his wife.page 44
2.Committing adultery with her.
3.Beating or otherwise maltreating her.
1.Unlawfully taking away a man's wife. There are two ways in which this injury may be done; one by frand, and persuasion; another by a forcible taking. The Law, however, supposes a forcible taking, or violence, in both cases, as it does not recognize a power to consent in the wife. The remedy for the husband is by an Action at Law, and he may recover damages for taking her away.
2.Committing adultery with a man's wife. This is a Civil Injury, and a grievous wrong. The Law gives satisfaction to the husband by an action against the adulterer. The damages awarded by the Court are not the same in all cases. In some cases they are large; in others, small. The standing of the husband and of the seducer will be considered; whether high or low in rank, affluent or poor; and the award will be affected thereby. The relation in which they stand with each other, whether relatives or strangers. The nature and degree of seduction employed: the conduct and character of the woman before her seduction, whether correct or otherwise; and her previous treatment by her husband, whether kind or harsh, will also be considered. If it be proved that the husband had been first guilty of adultery, this will go in mitigation of damages. If it appear that the husband consented to the adultery of his wife, or that she had been forsaken by him, and that he was living in a state of permanent separation from her at the time of adultery, no action can be sustained. In these cases it is required that actual marriage be proved, but, generally, common report, and their living together, will be sufficient evidence of marriage.
3.Beating or maltreating a man's wife. If it be a common Assault, Battery, or Imprisonment, the Law gives redress by an Action in a Court of Justice for damages. The husband and wife must be joined as plaintiffs in such Action. But if the beating or other maltreatment be of an aggravated character, causing such serious injury to the wife as to deprive the husband of her company and assistance, the Law will give him compensation in an Action brought by himself alone.

If a girl is seduced, her parent or guardian may bring an Action against the seducer and recover damages. In order to sustain such Action, it will be sufficient to prove that the girl was under 21 years of age at the time of the seduction. If she were above 21 years of age, it will be necessary for the parent or guardian to prove that the girl was living with him at the time of her seduction, and that he has suffered loss by being deprived of her services. This must be proved in order to sustain an Aetion against the seducer.

And, in assessing damages, the dishonour done to the plaintiff by the conduct of the defendant will be considered by the Court. And, as in the case of adultery previously described, the behaviour of the parties, of the girl and of the parents, will be considered as forming ground for diminishing the compensation to be given to the plaintiff. It must be remembered, that in such a case, the woman herself cannot sue, but the action or suit for damages must be brought by her parent or guardian; for the woman could not be said to have sustained an injury by the act of the seducer, because she was a consenting party.

page 45

There is a provision of the Law which prescribes Limits within which an action for a Civil Injury must be brought. When the time allowed has past, no action can afterwards be brought. There are many particular rules fixing such limits; one rule applying to one case; another rule to another case. Those only, however, will be stated here which are most important to be known by the Maori people.

The reasons why the Law has fixed these limitations to actions are; to prevent uncertainty about titles to land and other property, and to make them permanently secure; to preserve peace; to prevent perjury; and also to secure, as far as possible, that all evidence relating to any matter to be brought to trial be produced while the persons who saw or knew anything of the circumstances are living, and remember those circumstances; for if no limit were fixed within which cases must be brought for trial, and long delays were permitted, it might not be possible to produce the evidence of the persons having knowledge of the circumstances, when required, from their having gone elsewhere, or having died, or having forgotten those circumstances, during the interval.

One limitation is in the case of Debt. The Law requires that the action must be brought within 6 years. If 6 years pass after the debt was contracted; or after the last payment on account was made; or after a written promise to pay was given; an Action cannot then be brought. The Law refuses to interfere on behalf of the creditor, because he was himself to blame for the delay. The rule is the same in the case of a Contract. If it be broken, and one of the parties wishes to sue the other on account of such breach; the proceedings must be taken within the space of 6 years.