Public Interest Damages

(2020) 40(4) Legal Studies 589-608

44 Pages Posted: 8 Mar 2020 Last revised: 4 Jan 2022

See all articles by Václav Janeček

Václav Janeček

University of Bristol Law School; University of Oxford - Faculty of Law

Date Written: January 15, 2020


This article argues that punitive, nominal, contemptuous, vindicatory, and disgorgement damages (commonly referred to as non-compensatory damages) can be collectively analysed as public interest damages because all these awards are justified by violations of public interests in addition to violations of the claimant’s rights. To the extent they are awarded in the public interest, noncompensatory damages feature a distinctively public element in private law. In contrast with compensatory damages, public interest damages are justified by ‘non-correlative wrongdoing’, ie infringements of interests which are valuable to the community rather than to the claimant. This helps us to understand how public interest damages differ from traditional damages awards and why public interest damages should be treated as an exceptional remedy. In support of these claims, the article offers an original analytic framework of reasons that justify damages awards.

Keywords: judicial remedies, non-compensatory damages, justifying reasons, wrongdoing, public interest

JEL Classification: K00, K1, K10, K11, K12, K13, K14, K19

Suggested Citation

Janeček, Václav, Public Interest Damages (January 15, 2020). (2020) 40(4) Legal Studies 589-608, Available at SSRN:

Václav Janeček (Contact Author)

University of Bristol Law School ( email )

University of Bristol
Senate House, Tyndall Avenue
Bristol, BS8 ITH
United Kingdom

University of Oxford - Faculty of Law ( email )

St Cross Building
St Cross Road
Oxford, OX1 3UL
United Kingdom

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