Exemplary Damages in UK Law

Leading Cases
  • Rookes v Barnard
    • House of Lords
    • 21 Enero 1964

    First, that your Lordships could not without a complete disregard of precedent, and indeed of statute, now arrive at a determination that refused altogether to recognise the exemplary principle. Secondly, that there are certain categories of cases in which an award of exemplary damages can serve a useful purpose in vindicating the strength of the law and thus affording a practical justification for admitting into the civil law a principle which ought logically to belong to the criminal.

    It extends to cases in which the Defendant is seeking to gain at the expense of the Plaintiff some object,—perhaps some property which he covets,—which either he could not obtain at all or not obtain except at a price greater than he wants to put down. Exemplary damages can properly be awarded whenever it is necessary to teach a wrongdoer that tort does not pay.

    I wish now to express three considerations which I think should always be borne in mind when awards of exemplary damages are being considered. First, the Plaintiff cannot recover exemplary damages unless he is the victim of the punishable behaviour. The anomaly inherent in exemplary damages would become an absurdity if a Plaintiff totally unaffected by some oppressive conduct which the jury wished to punish obtained a windfall in consequence.

    In a case in which exemplary damages are appropriate, a jury should be directed that if, but only if, the sum which they have in mind to award as compensation (which may of course be a sum aggravated by the way in which the Defendant has behaved to the Plaintiff) is inadequate to punish him for his outrageous conduct, to mark their disapproval of such conduct and to deter him from repeating it, then it can award some larger sum.

  • Attorney General of Trinidad and Tobago v Ramanoop
    • Privy Council
    • 23 Marzo 2005

    An award of compensation will go some distance towards vindicating the infringed constitutional right. The fact that the right violated was a constitutional right adds an extra dimension to the wrong. An additional award, not necessarily of substantial size, may be needed to reflect the sense of public outrage, emphasise the importance of the constitutional right and the gravity of the breach, and deter further breaches.

  • Thompson v Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis
    • Court of Appeal (Civil Division)
    • 19 Febrero 1997

    The fact that the defendant is a Chief Officer of Police also means that here exemplary damages should have a lesser role to play. Even if the use of civil proceedings to punish a defendant can in some circumstances be justified it is more difficult to justify the award where the defendant and the person responsible for meeting any award is not the wrongdoer, but his "employer".

    Such damages can be awarded where there are aggravating features about the case which would result in the plaintiff not receiving sufficient compensation for the injury suffered if the award were restricted to a basic award.

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Books & Journal Articles
  • Exemplary Damages After Camelford
    • No. 57-1, January 1994
    • The Modern Law Review
  • The Law Commission Report on Aggravated, Exemplary and Restitutionary Damages
    • No. 61-6, November 1998
    • The Modern Law Review
  • Effective Deterrence v Accessible Remedies: What Not to Borrow from US Discrimination Law
    • No. 6-2, March 2004
    • International Journal of Discrimination and the Law
    At a time when the UK consults on the appropriate powers and mission of a new single equality commission, the fight against discrimination must avoid unintentionally eroding the ability of the empl...
    ... ... dispute resolution by emphasizing punitive (exemp- lary) damages, class action lawsuits, and government funded strategic litigation to send ... for discriminatory acts as opposed to, say, from class actions, exemplary damages ... 1 1 2 deterrents, and government-backed strategic litigation ... ...
  • Remedies for Dishonest Assistance
    • No. 67-1, January 2004
    • The Modern Law Review
    The paper considers the nature of claims against dishonest assistants and the various money remedies those claims may evoke. Dishonest assistance is a form of civil secondary liability whereby the ...
    ... ... tion to trust propertyhas bee n suchthat he ought to be liable in damages for its loss as if he were a trustee who had disposed of the trust ... for disgorg ement of unauthorised pro¢ts and claims for exemplary damages ... All these di¡erent types of claimwill be consid- ered in turn f ... ...
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Law Firm Commentaries
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