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GENERAL DAMAGES NEED NOT BE PLEADED AND PROVED

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The law is settled beyond peradventure that general damages are always made as a claim at large. The quantum need not be pleaded and proved. The award is quantified by what, in the opinion of a reasonable person, is considered adequate loss or inconvenience which flows naturally, as generally presumed by law, from the act of the defendant. It does not depend upon calculation made and figure arrived at from specific items. The issue of award of damages in any given case is a matter based on the discretion of the trial Court.

– Ogakwu, JCA. Kupolati v. MTN (2020)

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COMPENSATORY DAMAGES IS SAME AS GENERAL DAMAGES

Indeed, Compensatory Damages is the same as General Damages which is damages recovered in payment for actual injury or economic loss, which does not include punitive damages. A sum of money awarded in a civil action by a Court to indemnify a person for the particular loss, detriment, or injury suffered as a result of the unlawful conduct of another. Compensatory damages provide a plaintiff with the monetary amount necessary to replace what was lost, and nothing more.

– Peter-Odili, JSC. Mekwunye v. Emirates (2018) – SC.488/2014

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GENERAL DAMAGES ARE LOSSES THAT FLOW NATURALLY

Once breach of contract is established, damages follow. General damages are thus losses that flow naturally from the adversary and it is generally presumed by law, as it need not be pleaded or proved. See UBN Ltd. v. Odusote Bookstores Ltd. 1995 9 NWLR pt. 421 p558 General damages is awarded by the trial court to assuage a loss caused by an act of the adversary. An appeal Court is always loath to interfere with such award, but will be compelled to do so: (a) Where the trial judge acted under a misapprehension of facts, or law; (b) Where he failed to take into account relevant matters; (c) Where the amount awarded is too low or too high; (d) Where failing to interfere would amount to injustice. Damages are awarded to restore the plaintiff as far as money can to the position he would have been if there had been no breach. That is to say to compensate the plaintiff for the loss.

– Rhodes-Vivour, JSC. Cameroon v. Otutuizu (2011) – SC.217/2004

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TWO CLASSES OF GENERAL DAMAGES

For purposes of proof, general damages are classified into two i.e (a) Where general damages may be inferred as in defamation cases or presumed as in personal injury matters of pain and suffering (b) Where general damages have to be proved. In the instance case, what is in issue is personal injury. The moment there is evidence of injury, pain, discomfort and permanent scarring, the Plaintiff will be entitled to damages. See ESEIGBE V. AGHOLOR (1993) 9 NWLR (Pt. 316) 128.

— M.N. Oniyangi JCA. Presentation National High School & Ors. v. Ogbebor (CA/B/105/2012, 17 MAY 2018)

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OBJECT OF AN AWARD OF GENERAL DAMAGES

The object of an award of general damages is to compensate the plaintiff, as far as money can do so, for the damages, loss or injury he has suffered. The guiding principle is restitution in integrum. It envisages that a party which has been damnified by the act which is called in question must be put in the position he would have been if he had not suffered the wrong which he is now being compensated for. In other words, the loss inevitably and unavoidably flowing from the breach. See: Chief S.I. Agu Vs General Oil Ltd. (2015) LPELR -24613 (SC) @ 31-32 G-B; NEPA Vs R.O. Alli & Anor. (1992) 10 SCNJ 34; Ijebu-Ode L.G. Vs Adedeji Balogun & Co., Ltd (1991) 1 NWLR (Pt.166) 136.

— K.M.O. Kekere-Ekun, JSC. MTN v. Corporate (2019) – SC.674/2014

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GENERAL DAMAGES ARE INCAPABLE OF EXACT CALCULATION

General damages are presumed by law to be the direct and probable consequence of the act complained of. General damages are generally incapable of substantially exact calculation. There is therefore no scientific, or empirical formula to be followed in arriving at an award of general damages. That is why as far back as 1870 it was held that general damages are such as the jury may give, when the judge cannot point out any measure by which they are to be assessed except the opinion and judgment of reasonable men. See PREHN V. THE ROYAL BANK OF LIVERPOOL (1870) LR 5 EXCHIBIT 92. Therefore as long as the award of general damages aligns with what can be perceived or considered as one that can, in the opinion of reasonable men be capable of being awarded, there will be no reason to disturb the award.

– O. Daniel-Kalio, JCA. Egypt v. Abdoulaye (2017) – CA/K/540/2014

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PAIN AND SUFFERING SHOULD BE AWARDED UNDER GENERAL DAMAGES

Once a plaintiff has successfully shown that he suffered personal injury as a result of a breach of duty owed him by the defendant, the claim for pain and suffering must be considered. No principle can be laid down upon which damages for pain and suffering can be awarded in terms of the quantum. There is, however, no doubt that pain and suffering is a recognized head of award that sounds in general damages. The court must consider what the compensation should be going by the evidence that gives an insight into the intensity of the pain and suffering. The award is usually generous although it should not be excessively high or grossly low. It must be such as reasonably tends to reflect the intensity of the pain and suffering.

– Uwaifo JSC. C & C Constr. v. Okhai (2003) – SC.8/1999

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