11 AUGUST 1961, Page 15


SIR,—Although it has little bearing on the original subject of this correspondence 1 must, for the sake of the record, disagree with Mr. J. A. G. Smith, and the OED (or maybe with his reading of it).

Crime, is only one side of the legal coin, the other face being civil wrongs such as torts, breaches of contracts, etc., and an act which is not criminal may well fall under one of these heads. The fact that in' such cases the law does not act silo proprio motu, but only at the instance of the person aggrieved, does not make them any less unlawful.

Anyway, the paradox which Mr. Smith bewails is not abnormal. For example, it is no wrong to have instituted unsuccessful criminal proceedings against someone, nor to bear malice against someone, but if the former be done because of the latter the tort of malicious prosecution may have been committed. Or, more obviously: it is quite legal to own an un- licensed motor-car, legal, too, to drive a car on the public roads; these two legal acts combined con- stitute an offence. Is this so very undesirable?


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