Can a creditor commit a tort against a debtor and the damages resulting from the tort are set off against the original debt?

Alberta, Canada


The following excerpt is from Royal Bank of Canada v. Wilton, 1995 CanLII 11041 (AB CA):

In Holt, none of the cases discussed dealt with a situation where a creditor committed a tort against a debtor and the damages resulting from the tort were set off against the original debt. A more analogous situation occurred in Attack v. Bramwell (1863), 3 B. & S. 520, 122 E.R. 196, where a landlord entered his tenant's room and seized some of the tenant's goods because the tenant was delinquent in his rent. The landlord was found guilty and prayed to have his damages set-off against the rent owing. The court held that set-off was not appropriate in this situation and the plaintiff was entitled to the damages awarded to him. The court states at p. 198 E.R., p. 525 B & S: Cockburn C.J. This rule must be made absolute. The defendant having done that which made this distress altogether void, and his entry on the plaintiff's premises and seizure of his goods a trespass ab initio, the plaintiff is entitled in this action to recover the actual value of those goods, and the ruling of the Judge, in leaving to the jury to take into consideration the benefit which the plaintiff had received from the discharge, by seizure and sale of his goods, of his liability to the defendant for rent, was a misdirection.

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