Damages and Remedies in Torts


to understand the concept of remoteness of damages, it is important for one to understand the basic meaning and definition of remedies and damages.

Remedy is a means employed to enforce a right or redress an injury.

According to Tomlin “Remedy is the action or means given by law for the recovery of a right; and it is a maxim of law that whenever the law gives anything, it gives a remedy for the same.”  

In simple terms we can say that a remedy is the action or means given by the law for the recovery of a right.

There are mainly 2 kinds of remedies under torts namely: –

  1. Judicial
  2. Damages
  3. Injunctions
  4. Specific restitution of property
  5. Extra – judicial.

Damages means loss or injury. When plaintiff suffers loss or injury due to the wrongful act of the defendant then he/she is entitled to receive damages from the defendant or respondent.

Black’s law dictionary states that “By a damage we understand every loss or diminution of what is a man’s own, occasioned by the fault of another. The definition of damage extends the notion beyond a man’s goods. His life, his limbs , his liberty an exemption from pain, his character or reputation, are all his own in a strict and proper sense; so that the loss or diminution of any of them gives him a right to demand reputation from those by whose fault they have been lost of diminished.”

The damages can be classified into the following categories; –

  1. General damages
  2. Specific damages

The primary object of awarding damages in an action of tort is to offer pecuniary compensation to the party injured. The nature of damages is generally compensatory.

To further understand the concept of remoteness of damages, we can use the legal maxim behind this concept and the definitions or views of great scholars about the topic.

LEGAL MAXIM- “injure non remota causa sed proxima spectator”

This means that in law, the immediate and not the remote cause of any event is regarded.

The consequences of wrongful act may be endless but the defendant or tortfeasor cannot be held liable for all the consequences followed by the wrongful act. The defendant is only liable for consequences that are not too remote or proximate. The consequences of the act must me foreseeable and only then plaintiff can claim for relief from the respondent or defendant.

For example, if a dog escapes from the possession of its owner and gets into the neighbour’s house and bites the neighbour and the dies because of a rear disease that he had. Here, the owner of the dog will only be liable for negligence and not for the dearth of the neighbour because that is an unforeseen circumstance and this is too remote for the tortfeasor or defendant to estimate.

Lord wright- “the law cannot take account of everything that follows a wrongful act; it regards some subsequent matters outside the scope of its selection, because it was infinite for the law to judge the causes of causes, or consequences of consequences. In the varied web of affairs, the law must abstract some consequences as relevant, not perhaps on ground of pure logic but simply for practical reasons.”

Lord Campbell- “the damage is too remote,” when the damage and loss are not sufficiently concatenated as cause and effect.”

Salmond and Houston- “while dealing with the doctrine of remoteness of damages the following conclusion with both on principle and authority seem to be indisputable.

In the first place, an event may be the consequence of several causes.

Secondly, the doctrine of remoteness of damage is not limited to wrongs of negligence but also applies to wrongs of all kinds.

Thirdly, a consequence cannot be held to be too remote if it was actually intended by the wrong doer.

Fourthly, the question of remoteness of damage, arises only after it is established that the defendant has been guilty of wrongful act.

 Fifthly, remoteness of damage is one of fact.” 

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