Milner and Milner v Carnival Plc [2010]

Milner and Milner v Carnival Plc [2010]

Milner and Milner v Carnival Plc [2010] EWCA Civ 389 is an English contract law concerning the calculation of damages. The main issue was determining the appropriate level of damages and the method for calculating them.

The claimants, Mr and Mrs Milner, booked a 106-day voyage with the defendant, Carnival Plc, 18 months in advance, paying a discounted price of £59,052 for what was promised to be a legendary and glamorous experience. However, the actual experience fell short of expectations as their cabin was damaged on the first night due to storms. Despite Carnival Plc offering an alternative cabin, Mr and Mrs Milner refused and disembarked in Hawaii 28 days into the trip, incurring expenses for a 6-week stay. Mr and Mrs Milner later accepted a partial refund but claimed additional pecuniary damages.

The Court of Appeal allowed the appeal, reducing the damages payable by Carnival Plc but not to the extent requested. Ward LJ emphasised the trite law principle that damages aim to place the claimants in the same position as if the contract had been properly performed. The calculation should compare the promised experience with the actual one, acknowledging the limits of monetary compensation.

Ward LJ rejected the notion that Mr and Mrs Milner had accepted repudiation of the contract, emphasising it was an agreed cancellation. Consequently, Mr and Mrs Milner were not entitled to damages for the loss of cruise pleasures, and the discomfort experienced on the ship did not justify exceptional awards.

Regarding the assessment of damages, Ward LJ noted that it is permissible to consider diminution in value and distress and disappointment as separate heads. However, judges should guard against duplication and review the sum of both elements before arriving at a final award. The judge found that the original award of £7,500 each for distress and disappointment was excessive, suggesting a reduction to £4,000 and £4,500 for the wife, along with adjustments for wasted expenses.

Ward LJ criticised Carnival Plc's account for ignoring general disruption, inconvenience, and uncertainty experienced by Mr and Mrs Milner, highlighting that these factors should be considered in assessing damages. The court underscored the need for a comprehensive evaluation to ensure a fair and justified compensation amount.

In summary, the Court of Appeal clarified the principles guiding the calculation of damages in cases of contractual breach, emphasising the need to assess the disparity between promised and delivered services, while also cautioning against duplicative awards for different heads of damage.
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