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lien upon them, the executor cannot bring trover against EXECUTORS X., as long as the lien lasts. Though all the personal estate of the testator or intestate passes to his representatives, the right to bring actions for injuries to it after his death, is to some extent affected by the nature of the property.
All the moveable goods, though in ever so many different and distant places, vest in the executor in possession, immediately on the testator's death (v). Hence, for an injury to them, e.g., a conversion, an executor can sue, as already pointed out, the moment it is committed. again, the reversion of a term which the testator has granted for a part of the term (as, e.g., where A., the testator, is lessee of land for ninety-nine years, and has leased it for twenty-one years to B.), is in the executor immediately by the death of the testator (w), and, therefore, the executor can immediately bring an action for any act injurious to his reversionary interest.
But things immoveable, such as leases for years of land or houses, are not considered to be in the possession of the executor or administrator before entry. And since, as before pointed out, the right to bring an action for trespass to land depends, not upon the right to possession, but upon possession (x), an executor or administrator cannot a person who, after the testator's death, trespasses on his property, until he has entered.
The executor or administrator may after entry bring an action for trespasses committed before entry (y).
Relation of Title.-An executor's title depends, as Relation already pointed out (2), upon the will ; an administrator's upon the letters of administration. Hence an executor can commence an action before he takes out probate, for an injury to the personal property of the deceased, whilst
(v) 2 Wms. Saund. 47 b, note 1; 1 Williams, Executors, 6th ed., 600.
(y) See Barnett v. Guildford, 11 Exch. 19; 24 L. J. 281, Ex. ; Radcliffe V. Anderson, E. B. & E. 806 ; 29 L. J. 128, Q. B.
(-) See pp. 214, 215, ante.
EXECUTORS an administrator cannot do so until the administration
has been granted to him. It might, therefore, be supTRATORS. posed to follow, that if, after the death of A., the testator,
and before letters of administration are taken out, X. converts his goods, the administrator could not sue X. in trover.
But this consequence is avoided by the doctrine that for some purposes an administrator's title relates back to the death of the intestate. Hence, an administrator may have an action of trespass (a), or trover, for the goods of the intestate taken by a wrong. doer before letters of administration were granted. So it would seem that the grant of administration will have the effect of vesting leasehold property in the administrator by relation, so as to enable him to bring actions in respect of that property, for all matters affecting the same, subsequent to the death of the intestate. In other words, the letters of administration, when granted, give an administrator, speaking generally, the same rights of suing wrongdoers as are possessed by an executor (6).
RULE 95.—The real representatives of the deceased cannot sue for any wrong done to him.
The right to sue passes, if it passes at all, to a deceased person's personal, and not to his real, representatives; nor can the latter sue for injury done to his property after death. When an heir sues for an injury to the real estate, which he inherits, he does not sue for any injury to the testator's property, but for an interference with his own rights as owner.
One apparent exception to this general principle is the following:
(a) Tharpe v. Stallwood, 5 M. & G. 760; 12 L. J. 241, C. P.
(6) An administrator, nevertheless, cannot bring detinue against a per. son who, having got goods of the intestate's, has ceased to hold them prior to the grant of administration ; Crossfield v. Such, 8 Exch, 825; 22 1. J.
; 325, Ex.
The heir-at-law is the proper person to maintain an EXECUTORS action for the entire damage resulting from a nuisance of a continuing nature, which comes into his possession by TRATORS. descent (c).
(c) Penruddock's Case, 5 Coke, 101 a. ; Some v. Barwish, Cro. Jac. 231. See Addison, Torts, 3rd ed., 920. As to joinder of plaintiffs, see p. 380, ante. As to the right of action for a tort passing to the survivor of several persons jointly injured, see p. 382, ante.
RULE 96.—No person is liable to be sued for any injury of which he is not the cause.
No one, it is clear, can be held responsible for anything which is not the result of his own acts or omissions. But the conduct of X. may occasion injury to A., and therefore, in one sense, be the cause of a wrong to A., and yet X. may not be held responsible for the wrong, either because it is only a remote consequence of X.'s conduct; or, under some circumstances, because the damage complained of is due in part to what is termed the contributory negligence of A. In either case, the ground on which X. is exempt from liability is that he is not, in the eye of the law, the cause of the grievance complained of by A.
Remoteness.-A person is not the cause of or liable for the remote or indirect results of his acts. infinite for the law to consider the causes of causes, and their impulsions one of another; therefore, it contenteth itself with the immediate cause, and judgeth of acts by that, without looking at any further degree" (a). A person, that is to say, is responsible only for the natural and proximate consequences of his acts, and not for remote consequences not clearly connected with the act complained of (b).
Remoteness of result.
“ It were
(a) Bacon, Maxims, Reg. 1. See Broom, Maxims, 4th ed., 215.
(6) See Vicars v. Wilcocks, 8 East, 1; 2 Smith, L. C., ,6th ed., 487;
The question of what is called remoteness, i. e., whether the wrong complained of can be connected with the conduct of the defendant closely enough to make him liable for it, must, it is manifest, mainly arise when the injury complained of is not some act such as a trespass, which is actionable in itself (c), but some act, e.g., the utterance of a slander, which becomes an injury on account of the damage which it causes; since, in such a case, it is necessary to show that the damage fairly results from the conduct of the defendant. In an action, for example, for slander, the damage must be the legal and natural result of the words spoken, and A. cannot support an action for slander against X., on account of a mere wrongful act, such as a breach of contract by M., which was prompted by, or resulted from, the statement uttered by X (d). Thus again where the director of a musical performance sued the defendant for libelling a public singer, whereby she was prevented from performing in public, and the plaintiff lost his profits, the damage was held to be too remote to enable him to sue (e).
The principle that a person is not liable for results which do not flow naturally from his acts, must be applied with great caution. The expression, indeed, remoteness is calculated to mislead, since a man may be held the cause of, and liable for, damage which may be a very remote consequence of his conduct, provided there be no intermediate cause to which it can be more properly referred. The true bearing and effect of the principle under consideration is most easily explained in reference to the rule, that any person is liable to be sued who causes injury to another (f).
(c) See pp. 52–54, ante.
(d) Vicars v. Wilcocks, 2 Smith, L. C., 6th ed., 487 ; Lynch v. Knight, 9 H. L. C. 577.
(e) Ashley v. Harrison, 1 Esp. 48; Taylor v. Neri, 1 Esp. 386. But see Lumley v. Gye, 2 E. & B. 216 ; 23 L. J. 462, Q. B.
(f) Rule 97.