Damages in United Kingdom

Definition of Damages

The award by court or prior mutual agreement for a breach of contract.

In accordance with the work A Dictionary of Law, this is a description of Damages :

A sum of money awarded by a court as compensation for a tort or a breach of contract. Damages are usually a *lump-sum award (See also provisional damages). The general principle is that the claimant is entitled to full compensation (restitutio in integrum) for his losses. Substantial damages are given when actual damage has been caused, but nominal damages may be given for breach of contract and for some torts (such as trespass) in which no damage has been caused, in order to vindicate the claimant’s rights. Damages may be *aggravated by the circumstances of the wrong. In exceptional cases in tort (but never in contract) *exemplary damages may be given to punish the defendant’s wrongdoing. Damages may be classified as unliquidated or liquidated. Liquidated damages are a sum fixed in advance by the parties to a contract as the amount to be paid in the event of a breach. They are recoverable provided that the sum fixed was a fair pre-estimate of the likely consequences of a breach, but not if they were imposed as a *penalty. Unliquidated damages are damages the amount of which is fixed by the court, Damages may also be classified as *general and special damages.

The purpose of damages in tort is to put the claimant in the position he would have been in if the tort had not been committed. Recovery is limited by the rules of *remoteness of damage. The claimant must take reasonable steps to mitigate his losses and so may be expected to undergo medical treatment for his injuries or to seek alternative employment if his injuries prevent him from doing his former job. Damages may also be reduced for the claimant’s *contributory negligence. The purpose of damages in contract is to put the claimant in the position he would have been in if the contract had been performed, but, as in the case of damages in tort, recovery is limited by rules relating to remoteness of damage. Again as in the case of torts, the claimant is also under a duty to take all reasonable steps to mitigate his losses and cannot claim compensation for any loss caused by his failure to do this. If, for example, a hotel reservation is cancelled, the hotelier must make all reasonable attempts to relet the room for the period in question or as much of it as possible.

Damages obtained as a result of a cause of action provided by the *Human Rights Act 1998 will be provided on the basis of the principles of *just satisfaction developed by the European Court of Human Rights.


Lesion (through Fr. from Lat. laesio, injury, laedere, to hurt), an injury, hurt, damage. In Scots law the term is used of damage suffered by a party in a contract sufficient to enable him to bring an action for setting it aside.

Source: Encyclopedia Britannica (1911)

Damages Contract Sale of Land Case Law

  • A selected English Real Property Law Case in relation with damages contract sale of land may be: Hooper v Oates [2013] EWCA Civ 91, [2013] 16 EG 108, 112–113 (CA)
  • Year of the above case: 2013

Damages Defined Case Law

  • A selected English Real Property Law Case in relation with damages defined may be: Stadium Capital [No 2] Ltd v St Marylebone Property Co plc
  • Year of the above case: 2012

Damages Defined Case Law

  • A selected English Real Property Law Case in relation with damages defined may be: Bocardo SA v Star Energy UK Onshore Ltd
  • Year of the above case: 2010


Damages Defined Case Law

  • A selected English Real Property Law Case in relation with damages defined may be: Stadium Capital Holdings (No.2) Ltd v St Marylebone Property Company Plc
  • Year of the above case: 2010


Damages Legal Requirement For Case Law

  • A selected English Real Property Law Case in relation with damages legal requirement for may be: Van Dal Footwear Ltd v Ryman Ltd
  • Year of the above case: 2010

Concep of Damages in Procedural Law

In this context, a short definition of Damages may be the following: A sum of money awarded by the court as compensation to the claimant.

Meaning of Damages

The following is an old definition of Damages [1]: The compensation which the law will award for an injury done. A species of property given to a man by a jury as a compensation and satisfaction for, some injury sustained. The plaintiff has no certain demand till after verdict; but when the jury has assessed his damages and judgment is given thereon, he instantly acquires, and the defendant loses, a right to that specific sum. The verdict and judgment fix and ascertain the plaintiff’s inchoate title; they do not give, they define, his right. The recompense that is given by a jury to the plaintiff for the wrong the defendant hath done unto him.0 A compensation, recompense, or satisfaction to the plaintiff for an injury actually received by him from the defendant. The legal injury is the standard by which the compensation is to be measured: the injured party is to be placed, as near as may be, in the situation he would have occupied if the wrong had not been committed. When it is said that a person is or will be responsible (or be required to respond) or liable or answerable ” in damages,” the meaning is, he may or will be required by law to furnish a money equivalent for the injvuy he has done. Actual or single damages. Compensation for the real loss or injury. Increased, double, or treble damages. Single damages, as found by a jury, enhanced by the court. The statutes of nearly every State provide for the increase of damages where the injury complained of results from neglect of duties imposed for the better security of life and property, and make that increase, in some cases, even quadruple the actual damages. Experience favors tiiis legislation as the most efficient mode of preventing, with the least inconvenience, the commission of injuries. The decisions of the highest courts have affirmed the validity of such legislation. The injury actually received is often so small that in many cases no effort would be made by the sufferer to obtain redress, if the private injury were not supported by the imposition of punitive damages. See Fence. Civil damages. Injuries sustained either to one’s rights as a citizen of a State and of the United States, or else to his relative rights as a member of a family, and aside from any view of the act complained of as an offense to the public and punishable in the criminal tribunals. Civil Damage Laws. (1) Statutes which confer upon colored persons individual rights of action in the civil courts for any discrimination against them and in favor of white persons on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude. See Right, Civil Rights Act. (2) Statutes which confer a right of action in a civil court upon the wife, family, or a near relative of a person who lost his life or who has sustained injuries in consequence of intoxicating liquor having been sold or given to him in violation of law. The Massachusetts statute contemplates that the habitual drunkenness of a husbaud or wife, parent or child, is a substantial injury to those bound together in domestic relations, and gives the right to recover damages in the nature of a penalty, not only for any injury to the person or property, but for the shame and disgrace brought upon them. Hence, the right of a son to recover damages does not depend upon the question whether he is dependent upon the father for support or not, but solely upon the relation. See Policy, 1, Public. Compensatory damages. Such damages as measure the actual loss, and are allowed as amends therefor. Exemplary, punitive, ot vindictive damages. Such damages as are in excess of the actual loss, and allowed, in theory, where a tort is aggravated by evil motive – actual malice, deliberate violence or oppression, or fraud. Exemplary damages are sometimes called ” smart money.” All rules of damages are referred to compensation or punishment. Compensation is to make the injured party whole; exemplary damages are something beyond this, and are inflicted with a view to punishing the defendant. It is undoubtedly true that the allowance of any thing more than an adequate pecuniary indemnity for a wrong suffered is a departure from the principle upon which damages in civil suits are awarded. But although, as a rule, the plaintiff recovers merely such indemnity, yet the doctrine is too well settled now to be shaken that exemplary damages may in certain cases be assessed. As the question of intention is always material in an action of tort, and as the circumstances which characterize the transaction are, therefore, proper to be weighed by the jury in fixing the compensation of the injured party, it may well be considered whether the doctrine of exemplary damages cannot be reconciled with the idea that compensation alone is the true measure of redress. But jurists have chosen to place the doctrine on the ground, not that the sufferer is to be recompensed, but that the offender is to be punished; and, although some text- writers and courts have questioned its soundness, it has been accepted as the rule in England and in most of the States of this country. It has also received the sanction of the Supreme Court. Discussed and recognized in Day v. Woodworth, 13 How. 371 (1851), it was more accurately stated in The Philadelphia, Wilmington & Baltimore Railroad Co. v. Quigley, 21 How. 213 (1858): Mr. Justice Campbell, who delivered the opinion of the court, saying – ” whenever the injury complained of has been inflicted maliciously or wantonly, and with circumstances of contumely or indignity, the jury are not limited to the ascertainment of a simple compensation for the wrong committed against the aggrieved person. The malice spoken of in this rule is not merely the doing of an unlawful or injurious act: the word implies that the wrong complained of was conceived in the spirit of mischief, or criminal indifference to civil obligations.” Although this rule was announced in an action for libel it is equally applicable to suits for personal injuries received from the negligence of others. Redress coraimensurate with such injuries should be afforded. In ascertaining its extent the jury may consider all the facts which relate to the wrongful act of the defendant, and its consequences to the plaintiff; but they are not at liberty to go further, unless it was done willfully, or was the result of that reckless indifference to the rights of others which is equivalent to an intentional violation of them. In that case the jury are authorized, for the sake of public example, to give such additional damages as the circumstances require. The tort is aggravated by the evil motive, and on this rests the rule of exemplary damages. “Exemplary,” “punitive,” and “vindictive” damages are synonymous terms. In cases of personal torts, such as assault and battery, slander, libel, seduction, criminal conversation, malicious arrests and prosecutions, seizure of goods, where the element of fraud, raalice, gross negligence, cruelty, oppression, brutality, or wantonness intervened, exemplary or punitive damages maybe recovered. And, since what would be a severe verdict to one of limited means might be but a trifle to one of large means, and the reason of the rule fail, evidence of the defendant’s ability to respond in damages may always be given in evidence. Constructive damages. Such damages as are imputed in law from an act of wrong to another person. Contingent damages. Such damages as may or may not occur or be suffered; such as depend upon an event which may or may not happen. Continuing damages. Damages incurred or suffered between two dates, as the beginning and the end of an act, and more or less separated in time. See Continuando. Direct or immediate damages. Such damages as result from an act without the intervention of any intermediate controlling or self-efficient cause. Consequential or resulting, indirect or remote damages. Not produced without the concurrence of some other event attributable to the same origin or cause. ” Direct damages ” include the damages for all such injurious consequences as proceed immediately from the cause which is the basis of the action, not merely for the consequences which invariably or necessarily result and which are always provable under the general allegation of damages in the declaration; but also other direct effects which have in the particular instance naturally ensued, and, to be recovered for, must be alleged specially. ” Consequential damages ” are those which the cause in question naturally but indirectly produced. All ” remote damages ” are consequential, but all ” consequential damages ” are by no means remote. Excessive damages. Damages awarded by a jury, so much lai-ger in amount than what are justly due as to indicate that the jurors must have been influenced by partiality, prejudice, passion, or ignorance; also called inordinate and unreasonable damages. Inadequate damages. Damages which, for some such reason, are grossly less than the sum actually due; also called insufficient damages. Verdicts for excessive or inadequate damages are set aside by the courts – the evidence of misapprehension or disregard of duty, on the part of the jury being clear beyond question. General damages. Such damages as by implication of law result from an act, and are awarded in the sound discretion of the jury, without evidence of particular loss. Special damages. Losses which are the natual, but not the necessary, consequence of the act; a loss which is peculiar to the particular case.Special damages must be particularly averred in the declaration,- for notice to the defendant, and thereby to prevent surprise at the trial. They result as the natural but not as the necessary consequence of the act complained of. See Per, Quod. Liquidated damages. Damages definitely ascertained by agreement of the parties or by the Judgment of a court. Unliquidated damages. Such damages as are not so determined. Care must be taken to distinguish between cases of “penalties,” strictly so called, and cases of “liquidated damages.” The latter properly occurwhen the parties have agreed that, in case one party shall do a stipulated act or omit to do it, the other party shall receive a certain sum as the just, appropriate and conventional amount of the damages sustained by such act or omission. In cases of this sort courts of equity do not mterfere to grant relief, but deem the parties entitled to fix their own measure of damages; provided always that the damages do not assume the character of extravagance, or of wanton and imreasonable disproportion to the nature or extent of the injury. On the other hand, those courts will not suffer their jurisdiction [to grant relief in the case of a penalty, if compensation can be made] to be evaded merely by the fact that the parties have called a sum damages which is, in fact and in intent, a penalty. See further Penalty. Nominal damages. A trivial sum awarded where a mere breach of duty or infraction of right is shown, with no serious loss sustained. Substantial damages. A sum awarded as compensation for injury actually suffered; compensatory damages, q. v. Whenever a right is invaded the law infers damage, and will award, pro forma, some small sum at least; as, one cent, six and one-quarter cents – half of an American shilling, etc. Failure to show actual damages, and the inference that none have been sustained, do not necessarily render a case trivial. A judgment for one cent, damages for trespass upon a mining claim, entered upon a special verdict for “nominal damages,” if in other respects proper, will not be set aside for uncertainty in the verdict. ” Nominal damages ” refers to some trifling sum. In such a case the doctrine of de minimis should be invoked.^5 Prospective damages. A loss which, in all probability, will be sustained by a plaintiff; indemnity for losses which will “almost to a certainty happen.” Termed speculative damages when the probability that a circumstance will exist as an element for Compensation becomes conjectural. The lack of certainty in the measurement of damages is no reason for refusing compensation. The law is full of instances where there is the same uncertainty, and where the jury determine what is reasonable compensation. All that is necessary is that there be certainty of damage as a direct result, and not a case of damnum absque injuria. On a contract to pay money at stipulated periods there may be as many suits as there are installments. On a tort there is but one action, and in that the party must have full justice; hence the courts anticipate a loss likely to occur in the future. When one party enters upon the performance of a contract, incurs expense therein, and, being willing to perform, is, without fault of his own, prevented by the other party, his loss will consist of two distinct items of damage : his outlay and expenses, less the value of materials on hand: and the profits lie might have realized by performance. The first item he may recover in all cases; and the second (the profits), when they are the direct fruit of the contract, and not too remote or speculative. . If the party injured by the stop-page of a contract elects to rescind the contract he cannot recover for outlay or for loss of profits; only for the value of services actually performed, as upon a quantum meruit. Damages for the breach of a contract are limited to such as are the natural and proximate consequences of the breach, such as may fairly be supposed to enter into the contemplation of the parties when they made the contract, and such as might naturally be expected to result from its violation.^5 See further under Contract. But if a party can save himself from loss arising from a breach, of contract at trifling expense or with reasonable exertion, it is his duty to do so.^6 See Indemnity, 1. The right to compensation for damages to the person or for personal injuries is well recognized at common law. Any limitation by the legislature to a sum less than the actual damages is in conflict with the right of remedy by due course of law reserved to the individual for injury to his person, in the constitution of each State. In an action for a personal injury the plaintiff is entitled to recover compensation, so far as it is susceptible of an estimate in money, for the loss and damage caused to him by the defendant’s negligence, including not only expenses incurred for medical attendance, and a reasonable sum for his suffering, but also a fair recompense for the loss of what he would otherwise have earned in his trade or profession, and has been deprived of the capacity of earning, by the wrongful act of the defendant. To assist the jury in making such an estimate, standard life and annuity tables, showing at any age the probable duration of life, and the present value of a life annuity, are competent evidence, but not absolute guides. In a statute providing that actions for tort for assault, battery, imprisonment, or other “damage to the person,” shall survive to the representative, the tort must affect the person directly – not the feelings or the reputation, as in cases of breach of promise, slander, and malicious prosecution. The substantial cause of action must be a bodily injury, or damage of a physical character, whether trespass or case lie. At common law no damages were recoverable for the loss of a human life. The reason was: life transcended all moneyed value; or, because, under feudal law, the property of a felon was forfeited to the crown, so that nothing remained wherewith to satisfy private demands. The life of a subject, as far as capable of .proprietorship, was the property of the government; the justice which was to be satisfied was public justice; the deceased and his family were only regarded as members of the state; the public, through the government, inflicted the punishment and received the amercement, and, as far as necessity existed, provided for the family, and, therefore, private redress or satisfaction was excluded. The effect of the action now allowed by statute (as to which see below) is, pro tanto, to reheve the state of a pubhc charge; the suit for damages becomes a private action. The common-law rule has been changed in most of the States by statutes which follow closely 9 and 10 Vict. (1846), known as “Lord Campbell’s Act.” Proceeding upon the theory that the widow, the children, and perhaps the parents, have a pecuniary interest in the life of the deceased, these statutes provide that for the benefit of such relatives an action for damages may be maintained against the person by whose wrongful act the deceased lost his life, the act being of such a nature that the deceased, had he survived, could himself have had an action for the personal injury. The right of recovery, then, being purely statutory, the amount recoverable for a death rests with the dis cretion of the legislature. In the District of Columbia this amount is $10,000; in some States, as in Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, and Pennsylvania, $5,000; but the amount recoverable for personal injuries generally remains unlimited, – in Massachusetts it is $4,000. In the absence of an act of Congress or a statute of a State giving a right of action therefor, a suit in admiralty cannot be maintained in the courts of the United States to recover damages for the death of a human being on the high seas, or on waters navigable from the sea, which was caused by negligence. Where the death is caused by negligence the only damages recoverable are for the injury to the relative rights of the surviving members of the family, and are compensatory in nature. Where, therefore, a child is free, lives apart from his parents, and m no way contributes to their support, they cannot maintain an action to recover damages for his death. When the child is not free the parents can recover only the value of his services during minority, and the expenses caused by the injury and death.^5 In all cases the amount of damages must depend very much on the good sense and sound judgment of the jury upon all the facts and circumstances of the particular case. If the suit is brought by the party there can be no fixed measure of compensation for the pain and anguish of body and mind, nor for the loss of time and care in business, or the permanent injury to health and body. So when the suit is brought by the representative the pecuniary injury resulting from the death to the next of kin is equally uncertain and indefinite.^6 In some States statutes provide that no action will lie for a wrong committed elsewhere, without proof of the existence of a similar right in the place where the wrong was committed.^7 See also Actio, Personalis; Aggravation; Commence, Action; Condemnation; Costs; Indemnity; Injury, 2; Innocent, 1; Inspection, 2; Interest, 3; Lay, 2; Malice; Measure; Neglibence; Profit, 2; Recoup; Remit, 3; Road; Solatium; Sound, 1; Restitutio; Take, 8; Timber; Tort; Trespass; Trouble.

Most Popular Entries related to Damages

Some Popular Entries in the European Legal Encyclopedia related to Damages


Notes and References

  1. Concept of Damages provided by the Anderson Dictionary of Law (1889)

Most Popular Entries related to Damages

Some Popular Entries in the European Legal Encyclopedia related to Damages


See Also

Further Reading

Concept of Damages in IP Law

[rtbs name=”intellectual-property-law”]Lambert defined damages as follows: A remedy for infringing an IPR. Compensation for the loss or damage arising from the infringement.


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