Tuberville v Savage

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Tuberville v Savage
Court King's Bench
Citation(s) [1669] EWHC KB J25, (1669) 1 Mod Rep 3, 86 ER 684

Tuberville v Savage [1669] EWHC KB J25 is a famous English decision on the requirements for both the tort of assault and the common law criminal offence of common assault. The court held that a conditional threatening statement, without an imminent threat of harm, does not constitute an assault.


Savage had made some insulting comments to Tuberville. In response, Tuberville grabbed the handle of his sword and stated, "If it were not assize-time, I would not take such language from you." Savage responded with force, causing Tuberville to lose his eye. Tuberville brought an action for assault, battery, and wounding, to which Savage pleaded provocation, to-wit Tuberville's statement.


The Court considered the language used in the statement and found that Tuberville did not express any intention to do any harm to Savage in the given circumstances. Tuberville's expressed words were precisely that he was not going to harm Savage because the justices of assize were in town. Therefore, there could be no action for assault (putting someone in apprehension of immediate violence), as there is neither intent nor an act, at least one of which was required to establish an assault. Thus, Tuberville succeeded in his action.

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