News By/Courtesy: Akanksha Dash | 17 May 2020 13:28pm IST


  • Damages is mostly monetary compensation
  • They are a usually awarded in a case of tort law
  • They are of three types

Damages are awards. They are mostly monetary and given to compensate for any kind of loss or injury. The purpose of damages in tort law is to restore the injured party to the position he was before the injury had been caused and the loss had been suffered.
Nominal damages are awarded in small amounts where the injured party proves that the tort has been committed by the defendant but no actual loss has been suffered.
Contemptuous damages, like nominal damages, are for a nominal amount of money. These are awarded when the court in the matter finds the plaintiff’s suit to be trivial but technically correct. In such cases, the plaintiff, if the jurisdiction follows loser-pays for attorney fees, has to pay for his or her attorney’s fees.
General damage is the damage that compensates the plaintiff for non-monetary damage suffered, termed usually as, “pain, suffering, and loss of amenity”. These are actionable per se and there is no need to specifically plead for it. These include loss of reputation, harm to mental capacity, disfigurement, etc.
Special damage needs to be proved by the plaintiff in the court of law for him or her to be compensated. They are the losses that can be calculated, they are quantifiable. Example: medical bill, damage to property, etc.
In the case of general damages, the loss suffered cannot be measured. They are inexact and do not have a predefined monetary value. In special damages, the losses can be direct or consequential. Direct damages are those which are direct consequences of the wrongful act while the consequential damages are the losses incurred because of the direct damages. For example, the goods in a shop were destroyed when the drain water entered it due to the negligence of the municipal corporation in cleaning it. The municipal corporation will be liable for the goods destroyed because of the water and also the loss incurred by the shop owner due to the shop being closed.
Aggravated Damages are highly exceptional damages awarded when the court in question feels that the tortious act of the defendant was driven by cruelty for subjecting the plaintiff to humiliating and malicious situations. They are based on the intangible injury suffered by the plaintiff, i.e., mental trauma, loss of reputation, self-esteem, etc.
Punitive Damages or Exemplary Damages are not for compensating the plaintiff but for the motive of deterring the wrongdoer. They are awarded only in special cases where the conduct of the wrongdoer supersedes the quantum of compensatory damages.
In a landmark case, Rookes v. Barnard [1964] AC 1129, Lord Devlin set out the circumstances where such damages could be awarded, they are:
  • When the actions by the servants of the government are oppressive, arbitrary or unconstitutional
  • Where the conduct by the defendant was for making a profit of himself
  • Where the statute authorizes these damages.

Section Editor: Pushpit Singh | 17 May 2020 17:27pm IST

Tags : damages, tort law, monetary compensation

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