Saturday, 20 June 2015

How to ascertain damages when evidence on record is insufficient to prove damages?

 The fact that damages are difficult to estimate and cannot be assessed with certainty or precision does not relieve the wrong-doer of the necessity of paying damages for his breach of duty, and is no ground for awarding only nominal damages. A distinction must be drawn, however, between cases where the difficulties are due to uncertainty as to the causation of damage, where questions of remoteness arise, and cases where they are due to the fact that assessment of damages cannot be made with any mathematical accuracy. Lack of relevant evidence may make it impossible to assess damages at all, as where the extent of the loss is dependent upon too many contingencies, and in such cases, where the liability is established, nominal damages only may be awarded. Where it is established, however, that damage has been incurred for which a defendant should be held liable the plaintiff may be accorded the benefit of every reasonable presumption as to the loss suffered. Thus the Court, or a jury doing the best that can be done with insufficient material, may have to form conclusions on matters on which there is no evidence, and to make allowance for contingencies even to the extent of making a pure guess; this is of common occurrence in claims made, for example, in respect of pain and suffering, loss of expectation of life, and the loss of a chance of winning a price; Halsbury's Laws of England, 3rd Edition, Vol. 11, page 226, Article 394.
Calcutta High Court
Gambhirmull Mahabirprasad vs The Indian Bank Ltd. And Anr. on 17 June, 1960
Equivalent citations: AIR 1963 Cal 163

Bench: S P Mitra
Read full judgment here; click here
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