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In what Circumstances Is It Possible for a Court to Award Exemplary Damages in Tort?
Exemplary damages, also known as punitive damages, are granted in some tort cases to "express the court's disapproval of what the defendant has done" . The principles of exemplary damages in tort laws are laid out in the decision of the House of Lord in Rookes v Barnard . In that case, Lord Devlin classified the cases in which the plaintiff is entitled to claim exemplary damages into three categories, namely:
(1)"oppressive arbitrary or unconstitutional action by the servants of the government" ,
(2)"the defendant's conduct has been calculated by him to make a profit for himself which may well exceed the compensation payable to the plaintiff" ,
(3)"where exemplary damages are expressly authorised by statute."
Even though Lord Devlin's restriction was rejected in many common law jurisdictions such as Canada and New Zealand , the Hong Kong courts follow strictly with the restriction.
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