Date: Fri, 13 Sep 2002 08:39:42
From: Jason Neyers
Subject: New PC Decision on Punitive
Another interesting case of great
importance has just been released by the Privy Council. In A. v. Bottrill,
the PC was asked to decide whether an award of punitive damages might
be given for mere inadvertent negligence. By a bare majority, they found
that it could where that negligence was objectively outrageous.
In contrast, the dissent forcefully
and lucidly argued that since the purpose of punitive damages was to punish,
they might only be awarded if subjective mens rea was present.
For what it's worth, I find the
reasoning of the majority to be strange and strained and that of the minority
to be the more compelling. More compelling that is, if one accepts that
there might be a residual role (i.e. for situations not covered by criminal
legislation) for a common law court to punish those who would seek to
use the court's rules in the furtherance of their malicious wrongs.
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