Public Interest Damages
(2020) 40(4) Legal Studies 589-608
44 Pages Posted: 8 Mar 2020 Last revised: 4 Jan 2022
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: Suggested Citation