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Damages

Damages, a sum of money awarded to be paid by one person to another as compensation for loss sustained by the latter in consequence of an injury or injuries committed or suffered by the former. The test by which the amount is arrived at is known as the measure of damages. Thus, where a vendor sues his purchaser for breach of contract for the sale of goods, the measure of such damages should be the price of the goods if the property in them has passed to the purchaser, or the difference between the contract price and the market price at the time of the breach if the vendor has re-sold the goods. Liquidated damages are a sum agreed on between the parties, to be paid in case of a breach occurring, in order to save the costs and trouble of ascertaining the damage actually sustained. Nominal damages (such as a farthing) show that in the opinion of the court no real damage has been sustained, though a right may have been established. Exemplary damages consist not only of pecuniary compensation, but as a sort of punishment of the defendant with the view of preventing similar wrongs in future. Consequential damages are those losses or injuries which follow an act, but are not direct and immediate upon it. Courts of Equity have long laboured under the disadvantage of not being able to award damages for fraud or non-performance of contract. This was remedied by "Lord Cairns' Act," passed in the present reign, which gave jurisdiction to the court to award damages in addition to the equitable relief sought, and though that Act has been itself since repealed, it was in substance re-enacted by the Judicature Act, 1873. The "General Riot Damages Act," 1886, provides compensation out of the police rate to any person sustaining damage by riot. A serious riot which occurred in London in February, 1886, after a Socialist meeting in Trafalgar Square, led first of all to provision for this state of things, applicable to the metropolis only. This was quickly followed by the above Act. In former times compensation was recoverable from the "hundredors," from whom the liability has now been transferred as above.