General principles in the law of damages : their uniform application to contract, tort and equity
The rules governing the measure of monetary remedies in contract, tort and equity differ largely between the three areas. This thesis discusses the differences in relation to four issues. The first issue is remoteness of damage. Liability in negligence and many other torts is limited to loss that could, at the time of the tortious act, be foreseen as possible. Contract goes further and limits liability to loss that could, at the time of the contract, be contemplated as not unlikely. Equitable liability is not limited by remoteness considerations. The second issue is non-pecuniary loss. While tort shows a generous attitude towards the compensation of such loss, contract compensates non-physical distress and loss of reputation only where the prevention of such loss was "the object" of the contract broken. Authority for equity is sparse. The third issue is contributory negligence. Unreasonable conduct on the claimant's part that contributes to the occurrence of the wrong or the ensuing loss leads to a proportionate reduction in liability by virtue of the Law Reform (Contributory Negligence) Act 1945 in tort and in contractual actions for the breach of a duty of care co-extensive in contract and tort. Contributory negligence has no effect in other instances of contractual liability or in equity. The final issue is exemplary or punitive damages. They are presently confined to three categories of tortious behaviour: abuse of power by public servants, profit-seeking behaviour and statutory authorisation. The differences between contract, tort and equity generate problems where a claim can be based on more than one cause of action. This thesis challenges the present differences in relation to the four issues mentioned and suggests a uniform regime in each case.