The very first question that came to mind is what is the remedy? A remedy is a form of court enforcement of a legal right resulting from a successful civil lawsuit. In simpler terms remedy is a kind of relief that is provided to the aggrieved party or the plaintiff who suffered harm by the act/ omission done by the defendant. A party is said to be ‘aggrieved’ when something that they may have been enjoying has been taken away from them by another party. To bring back to the position that the aggrieved party was enjoying before the rights were infringed or harm caused, a legal remedy is provided.
Damages are the most essential remedy the plaintiff can avail of after the tort is committed. Damages are of two types:
1. Liquidated Damages
2. Unliquidated Damages
1. Liquidated Damages
Those damages in which the amount of compensation which has to be paid to the injured person is predetermined. It is usually paid in the cases of contracts where both the parties already know each other before the damage is caused by any of them and thus the courts only have to enforce the condition of such damages.
Example– A enters into an agreement with B for selling his goods to B and in the terms of the contract it has been specified that if the goods are defective then A will have to pay a compensation of Rs.500 to B. If the goods turn out to be defective and B files a case against A then amount of Rs.500 will be paid by A. Such compensation falls in the category of liquidated damages.
2. Unliquidated Damages
Those damages are not predetermined which means the amount which has to be paid is not decided before the injury happens to a person. Unliquidated damages are awarded in cases of tort because often the parties to such a case do not know each other before the commission of tort and therefore they can’t fix the amount of compensation beforehand.
Illustration: A commits the tort of trespass on B’s property and B brings a suit against him in Court. Here the award of damages that B will receive will be unliquidated damages, as the amount of compensation will be determined by the Court.
There are other five types of damages as follows:
- Nominal Damages
Nominal damages are those in which even though the plaintiff has suffered a legal injury at the hands of the defendant, there is no actual suffered by him. These damages are provided in the cases of Injuria sine damno in which the Court recognizes the violation of the right of the plaintiff but the amount of damages is so nominal or low because of no actual loss to the plaintiff.
In the case of Constantine v. Imperial London Hotels Ltd., The plaintiff was a cricketer from West Indies who had gone to the defendant’s hotel to stay but he was rejected based on his nationality, therefore, the plaintiff stayed at another hotel and did not suffer any actual damage. In the case brought by him, the defendant was held liable because the plaintiff’s legal right was violated despite no actual injury happening and they had to pay nominal damages of five guineas.
In the case of Ashby v. White (1703) 92 ER 126, the plaintiff was prevented from voting by the defendant, and the candidate for whom the plaintiff was going to vote still won. The plaintiff sued the defendant. It was held that even though no actual damage was suffered by the plaintiff, the defendant was still liable for preventing him from exercising his legal right to vote, and thus nominal damages were awarded in this case.
- Contemptuous Damages
In these types of damages, the Court recognizes that the right of the plaintiff is violated but to show that the suit brought by the plaintiff is of such a trivial nature that it has only wasted the time of the Court, the Court awards a meager amount to the plaintiff as damages. This is similar to the nominal damages but the only difference between the two is that in nominal damages the plaintiff suffers no actual loss and in contemptuous damages, the plaintiff suffers actual damage but it is a trivial one in which he does not deserves to be fully compensated.
Illustration: If A’s dog enters B’s house and relieves himself and B accidentally steps on it and is disgusted and thus, he brings a suit against A, the Court will rule in B’s favor but because of such a trivial nature of this case the damages awarded by the Court will be of a meager amount.
- Compensatory Damages
Compensatory damages are awarded to help the plaintiff to reach his original position which he was before the tort was committed against him. These damages are not awarded to punish the defendant but to restore the plaintiff to his previous situation. These damages are very helpful in cases of monetary losses in which the amount of loss can be easily calculated and therefore that amount can be ordered to be paid to the plaintiff so that he can replace the damaged product or goods with such amount.
Illustration: K takes T’s bike and due to his rash driving the bike gets damaged. Here K can be awarded compensatory damages in which the amount for repairing the bike will be payable to K by T so that the bike’s condition can be restored to its original state.
- Aggravated Damages
These damages are awarded for the extra harm which is caused to the plaintiff which cannot be compensated by the compensatory damages and it is given for factors such as the loss of self-esteem, pain, and agony suffered by the plaintiff, etc. which cannot be calculated in monetary terms. These damages are therefore additional damages that are awarded to the plaintiff other than the damages awarded for his pecuniary loss.
Illustration: A makes false claims against B because B’s standing in society is greatly affected and he is also ridiculed by people who lead to him losing his self-confidence and self-esteem. Here Court can award B aggravated damages for the humiliation and loss of confidence because of his suffering which is caused by A’s act.
- Punitive Damages
These damages are also known as exemplary damages and the purpose of these damages is to punish the defendant and to make an example of him so that others are deterred from committing the same act as he did. Thus, whenever a Court feels that the act of the defendant was severely gross, it awards punitive damages against him to the plaintiff.
Illustration: A company advertises that its pill will help in quick weight loss and is made up of natural ingredients; as a result, the plaintiff purchases it. But the pills containing certain chemicals it make the plaintiff severely ill. Here the Court can not only allow compensatory damages to the plaintiff but because of the company’s false claims, it can also award punitive damages so that it does not repeat the act.
In Bhim Singh v. State of J. & K., the Supreme Court awarded exemplary damages when there was wrongful detention. In this case, Bhim Singh, a member of the Legislative Assembly was arrested and detained to prevent him from attending the Assembly session. The detention was challenged in the Supreme Court through a writ petition but by the time of the decision, Bhim Singh had been set free. There was now no need to order that he be set at liberty but the Supreme Court considered it to be an appropriate case for awarding exemplary damages amounting to Rs. 50,00 pay within 2 months.
1. R.K. Bangia Law of Torts, 26th Edition 2021 by Allahabad Law Agency
2. M.N. Shukla The Law of Torts 18th Edition Central Law Agency
6. THE LAW OF TORTS by Dhirajlal & Ratanlal 28th Edition LexisNexis Publication
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