Rights of action in tort are those civil rights of action available for the recovery of damages by persons who have sustained injury or loss from acts, statements, or omissions of others in breach of a duty or contravention of a right, where that duty or right is imposed or conferred by law rather than by agreement (i.e., contract). Nevertheless the same circumstance may give rise to both an action for breach of contract and an action in tort. Many torts are also crimes (for example, conversion).

As a general rule, it is not possible in New Zealand to bring proceedings in tort seeking compensatory damages in respect of personal injury or death. The victim of personal injury or his or her dependants has instead a right to claim compensation under New Zealand's statutory accident compensation scheme. The common law principles governing liability in tort apply to loss or damage not covered by that scheme.