In contract law, various types of damages may be awarded to compensate the injured party for the harm or loss suffered as a result of a breach of contract. Here are some common types of damages in contract law:
Compensatory Damages: Compensatory damages aim to compensate the injured party for the actual loss or harm they have suffered due to the breach of contract. The purpose is to put the injured party in the position they would have been in if the contract had been performed. Compensatory damages typically include direct financial losses, such as the cost of repairs, replacement, or lost profits.
Consequential Damages: Consequential damages, also known as special damages, are additional damages that arise as a consequence of the breach and go beyond the direct losses. These damages must have been reasonably foreseeable by the breaching party at the time the contract was formed. Examples of consequential damages may include lost business opportunities, lost future profits, or other indirect or consequential losses resulting from the breach.
Nominal Damages: Nominal damages are awarded when a breach of contract has occurred, but the injured party has not suffered any actual financial loss or harm. Nominal damages are usually symbolic and are awarded to recognise that a breach of contract has taken place, even if the actual damages are minimal.
Liquidated Damages: Liquidated damages are predetermined amounts specified in the contract itself that the parties agree to pay in the event of a breach. They are often used when it may be difficult to determine the actual harm caused by a breach. Liquidated damages must be a genuine pre-estimate of the anticipated damages at the time of contract formation and not be excessive or punitive, or they may be considered unenforceable penalties.
Punitive Damages: Punitive damages, also called exemplary damages, are not typically awarded in contract law. They are designed to punish the breaching party for their intentional misconduct or gross negligence and to deter similar conduct in the future. Punitive damages are more commonly awarded in tort cases.
Statutory damages: Statutory damages are a type of damages that are established by statute or law and are available in certain legal claims or situations. Unlike compensatory damages, which are based on the actual harm suffered by the injured party, statutory damages are predetermined amounts specified in the law itself.
Restitutionary damages: Restitutionary damages are a type of monetary remedy awarded in certain legal cases, typically in situations where a party has been unjustly enriched or has gained a benefit at the expense of another. Unlike compensatory damages, which aim to compensate the injured party for their actual losses, restitutionary damages focus on restoring the unjustly gained benefit to the injured party.
It is important to note that the availability and specific rules regarding damages may vary depending on the jurisdiction and the terms agreed upon in the contract. Additionally, there may be limitations or exclusions on certain types of damages based on the contract's terms or applicable laws.
You can learn more about this topic and relevant case law with our Contract Law and Equity and Trusts notes.