General Remedies under Law of Torts


General Remedies under Law of Torts

It is well-known that since Torts are wrongs of a civil nature, no punishment in the Criminal code can be awarded to the wrongdoer. General remedies can be, however, provided to the aggrieved party and against the said wrongdoer.

When we talk about remedies, there are two kinds of remedies-

  • Judicial Remedies

  • Extra-Judicial Remedies

JUDICIAL REMEDIES


The various well-known remedies in Law of Torts are discussed here as-


1. DAMAGES

General Remedies under Law of Torts

Damages are the most essential and readily available remedy to the plaintiff in case of commitment of any tort against the wrongdoer.

In simple terms, Damages in the law of torts are such pecuniary compensations given to the aggrieved party, and the quantum/amount of such compensation is determined by the Court because damages in torts are mostly un-liquidated.


i) Normal damages -


These damages are awarded in circumstances where only a right is established (e.g. Assault). This may not even meet the expense incurred for suing.


In Constantine v Imperial London Hotels Ltd, the plaintiff who was a famous West Indian Cricketer was denied accommodation in the defendant Hotel and the plaintiff was accommodated in one of their other branch hotels. It was held by the Court that the plaintiff was entitled to the compensation of 5 guineas as damages.


ii) Compensatory, aggravated and vindictive damages-


The rationale behind awarding such damages to the plaintiff against the wrongdoer is to fulfil the principles of civil law and provide non-punitive punishments. Hence they are also called

Compensatory Damages.


When the damages awarded are more than the material loss suffered by the plaintiff to prevent similar behaviour in future, the damages are known as Exemplary, Punitive, or Vindictive. Such damages are not compensatory they are rather by way of punishment to the defendant.


Lord Devlin in Rookes v. Barnard observed that the rationale of awarding exemplary damages to dissuade and penalize the wrongdoer has in consequence blurred the lines of working of civil and criminal law.


iii) Exemplary damages-


There are some cases where it is not possible to calculate the compensation in terms of money. In such cases, the Court considers the conduct, motive and other vital information of the case in hand, and awards exceptionally high damages or compensation to be paid. Hence, the word Exemplary, to make an example and prevent further similar commissions of the act.


The amount awarded is much more than the loss suffered.

  • Huckle v. Money: In this case, a person's house was searched without any probable cause or proper documentation by a government servant. It was held that the government servant was liable for unlawfully entering and searching the house, and was awarded exemplary damages for such unlawful act.

  • Marzetti v. William: The defendant bank, in this case, refused to honour a cheque of the plaintiff for no justifiable reason. A suit was raised by the plaintiff and it was held that the bank was liable and was awarded damages.

iv) Contemptuous Damages-


In some cases, the plaintiff although suffers some injury or loss but such injury or loss is very insignificant but the Court instead of dismissing the case, forms a rather low opinion of the plaintiff for bringing the suit and awards a mere token amount to acknowledge the claim.

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It is to be distinguished from nominal damages. Nominal damages are generally awarded in cases where the plaintiff has not suffered any loss, whereas, in the case of Contemptuous damages, the plaintiff might have suffered some minor loss but is not completely liable for compensation.


When a wrong is actionable per se, for example, in the case of trespass, damage to the plaintiff is presumed and action lies even though the plaintiff may not have suffered any loss.


In Ashby v. White, a voter was wrongfully disqualified from voting in Parliamentary elections. It was later found out that the voter consequently did not suffer any loss because the candidate who the voter was supporting had already won the election. The defendant was held liable as it was considered a significant legal injury.


The rule is "De minimis non curet lex". (Trifle matters are not recognized by the Court). The samples of such cases include trespass on land or trespass to the person.


2. INJUNCTION

General Remedies under Law of Torts

An injunction is an order of the court which directs a party to perform any act or be restrained on the commission or omission or even the continuance of such act.

It is upon the discretion of the court to grant or refuse such relief and if such relief is possible by way of damages, then the court shall not pass an order for an injunction for the aggrieved party.


The principles for granting an injunction are laid down in the Specific Relief Act, 1963.

Section 37 of the Specific Relief Act, 1963 provides that the injunctions are of broadly two categories-