Punitive Damages in Civil Suits |CITY|
Submitted by dan. on 2007-05-16 20:57.
Both common law and continental law systems base civil liability on the compensatory principal: The victim of a wrongful act should be made whole by the restitution of compensatory damages. However, most common law jurisdictions recognize the mechanism of punitive or exemplary damages, which reward the victim over and above the amount of the actual loss.
A discussion has been going on, both in common law and continental law countries, regarding the legitimacy of the presence of a repressive institution in the civil process, given that the latter does not guarantee the same protection to the defendant as the criminal process.
Furthermore, the point has been made that punitive damages endanger the respect of the non bis in idem and nullum crimen sine lege, nulla poena sine lege principals. Moreover, punitive damages constitute, according to the critics, an unjust enrichment of the plaintiff.
On the other hand, an economic analysis of law shows that certain situations can incite the tortfeasor to commit a wrongful act each time that the benefits of an efficient breach of one’s obligations are superior to the costs of a trial and compensatory damages.
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