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OBJECT OF AN AWARD OF GENERAL DAMAGES

Dictum

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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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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GENERAL DAMAGES NEED NOT BE PLEADED AND PROVED

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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GENERAL DAMAGES ARE PRESUMED BY THE LAW

General damages are what the law presumes, but they must flow from the type of wrong complained about by the plaintiff and they frequently result from the tort for which the plaintiff has sued. They are at large in that the quantum of general damages need not be pleaded and proved as they are supposed to be a compensation for the loss or inconvenience flowing naturally from the wrong. They are thus not quantifiable but assessable by the trial Court taking the relevant matters into consideration.

– Yahaya, JCA. MTN v. Ezugwu (2018)

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GENERAL DAMAGES ARE COMPENSATION PRESUMED BY THE LAW

General damages are said to be damages that the law presumes and they flow from the type of wrong complained about by the victim. They are compensatory damages for harm that so frequently results from the tort for which a party has sued; that the harm is reasonably expected and need not be alleged or proved. A long line of cases of this Court have followed this line but I shall refer to a few.

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

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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 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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