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Award of Aggravated and Exemplary Damages

Thompson v Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis [1998] 1 QB 498

Aggravated Damages – Award

Aggravating damages can be awarded where there are aggravating features about a case which would lead to the claimant not receiving sufficient compensation for injury suffered if the award of damages were restricted to the normal compensatory award. Aggravating features can include humiliating circumstances, conduct of the Defendant that shows it behaved in a high handed, insulting, malicious or oppressive manner. Aggravating features can also include the way the trial or litigation is conducted.

Aggravated damages are not intended to be penal, and the total figure for basic and aggravated damages should not exceed fair compensation for the injury the claimant has suffered.

Aggravated Damages – Value

The Court also gave guidance in this case on the value of awards for aggravated damages. The Court said that the award would not normally be less than £1,000 (which they accepted should be updated for inflation), and would not normally exceed twice the basic award, except where, on the particular facts, the basic damages were modest.

Rookes v Barnard [1964] AC 1129

Exemplary Damages – Award

Exemplary damages are intended to be punitive, and are available in only limited scenarios: Oppressive, arbitrary or unconstitutional conduct by government servants; as a result of tortuous conduct calculated to result in profit; where expressly authorised by statute.

For an award to be made, the Claimant must be the victim of the punishable behaviour. Awards should be moderate, as they should not amount to a greater punishment than if the conduct were criminal, and the means of the Defendant should be taken into account. Furthermore, amounts awarded as basic and aggravated should be taken into account, as it is the whole sum payable which must be considered: in some cases the basic award will be sufficient punishment.

Exemplary Damages – Value

From Thompson above (the sums again should be updated for inflation:

Where exemplary damages are appropriate they are unlikely to be less than £5,000, otherwise it is probably not an appropriate case for an award of exemplary damages. In this case (false imprisonment/malicious prosecution) it was said that action must be particularly deserving of condemnation to merit a sum of £25,000 and £50,000 should be regarded as the absolute maximum.

January 28, 2011 · Editorial Team · Comments Closed
Posted in: Cases