Devenish Nutrition Ltd v Sanofi-Aventis Sa (France) and others: CA 14 Oct 2008

The defendant had been involved in price fixing arrangements, and the claimant sought damages for breach of its proprietary rights. The claimant appealed refusal of an award an account of profits for what was akin to a breach of statutory duty.
Held: The appeal failed. An account of profits should be available in a cartel case. Community law did not support the suggestion that it should. The decision in Wass was binding on the court. It had not been cited in Blake, and was not overruled by it. The claimant was entitled to the loss it had actually suffered but no more.
Arden LJ discussed whether mesne profits was a compensatory award: ‘In general, the common golden thread that runs through each of these three categories of remedy mentioned above [tort, contract and restitution] is that the claimant has suffered loss. But that is not always the case: see, for example, user damages discussed below. Similarly, in an action for breach of fiduciary duty, an account of profits can be awarded in circumstances where the claimant has suffered no loss, as in Regal (Hastings) Ltd v Gulliver (Note) [1967] 2 AC 134 (and a claim for an account of profits consequent on a breach of duty could arise even though there is no misuse of a property right, as where a director uses a power to make calls on shares for a collateral purpose). Moreover, user damages are not always assessed by reference to the fair price for what has been taken from the claimant. They may be assessed by reference to the profit that the defendant has made: see, for example, Ministry of Defence v Ashman (1993) 66 P and CR 195. Wrotham Park damages likewise may be awarded even though there is no loss. But the user damages and Wrotham Park damages still have an element of compensation within them in this sense, that while there may be no actual loss they are clearly cases where the law takes the view as a matter of policy that the claimants if they prove their claims are entitled to substantial compensation for the mere invasion of their rights.
It follows that the categories of damages identified above are not mutually exclusive. User damages can be restitutionary: they can be awarded where the claimant has suffered no loss and on the basis that the defendant is ordered to pay a sum by reference to the gain he would otherwise make. Damages for trespass to property, for instance, are awarded on the basis of market rent even if the claimant would not have let the property if vacant: see Swordheath Properties Ltd v Tabet [1979] 1 WLR 285. At the same time they can be described as compensatory. The view that they combine elements of both compensatory and restitutionary awards is supported by the decision of the Privy Council in Inverugie Investments Ltd v Hackett [1995] 1 WLR 713, 718b. Damages for trespass to land, for instance, are intended to compensate the claimant for being kept out of his land on whatever basis they are assessed. I do not therefore agree with the judge that user damages or Wrotham Park damages are necessarily compensatory. Nor do I consider that Lord Nicholls so held in Attorney General v Blake [2001] 1 AC 268. Lord Nicholls considered, at p 279e, that user damages were probably best regarded as exceptions to the general rule that damages are assessed on the basis that they compensate the claimant for his loss or injury. He also regarded Wrotham Park damages as, at p 284a: ‘payment [by the defendant] in respect of the benefit he has gained.’ If user damages and Wrotham Park damages were purely compensatory, they would not have been stepping stones to the conclusion that the court could grant an account of profits for a breach of contract.
What, however, does distinguish user damages from other compensatory damages is the fact that they are in general awarded because the defendant has made improper use of an asset of the claimant. In economic terms, there has been a transfer of value for which the wrongdoer must account. But that is also a feature of the present case. Devenish seeks in economic terms, by means of its claim for an account of profits for breach of statutory duty, to recover the amount of the overcharge that it has paid to the defendants out of its assets and in diminution of its net worth. Not all non-proprietary torts share this feature: for example, this feature is not present in claims for damages for defamation or personal injury. It is, however, often present in claims for breach of contract and for invasion of a statutory right where rights of property in the broadest sense are invaded for the benefit of the wrongdoer. A contractual right is a form of property (though it lacks some of the qualities of a property right). If the law of remedies were to be required to be coherent in economic terms, and this were the critical factor, the same remedies ought to be provided in each of these situations. However, even so, they would under Blake’s case be subject to strict judicial control through the requirement for exceptional circumstances.’

Tuckey LJ, Arden LJ, Longmore LJ
[2008] EWCA Civ 1086, [2009] Ch 390, [2009] Bus LR 858, [2009] 3 WLR 198, [2009] 3 All ER 27, [2008] UKCLR 783
Bailii, Times
England and Wales
Appeal fromDevenish Nutrition Ltd and others v Sanofi-Aventis SA (France) and others ChD 19-Oct-2007
The claimant sought damages for the losses it had suffered as a result of price fixing by the defendant companies in the vitamin market. The European Commission had already fined the defendant for its involvement.
Held: In an action for breach . .
CitedWrotham Park Estate Ltd v Parkside Homes Ltd ChD 1974
55 houses had been built by the defendant, knowingly in breach of a restrictive covenant, imposed for the benefit of an estate, and in the face of objections by the claimant.
Held: The restrictive covenant not to develop other than in . .
CitedStoke-on-Trent City Council v W and J Wass Ltd CA 1988
The council had operated open markets on its land under statutory authority. In breach of the statute, the defendant operated a market on a different day, but within the excluded area. This was a nuisance actionable on proof of damage. The council . .
CitedHM Attorney General v Blake (Jonathan Cape Ltd third Party intervening) HL 3-Aug-2000
Restitutionary Claim against Pofits from Breach
The author had written his book in breach of his duty of confidence. Having signed the Official Secrets Act, he accepted a contractual private law duty. After conviction as a spy, the publication of the book was in breach of the undertaking by not . .
CitedCrehan v Inntrepreneur Pub Company (CPC) CA 21-May-2004
The claimant had taken two leases, but had been made subject to beer ties with the defendant. He claimed damages for the losses, saying he had been forced to pay higher prices than those allowed to non-tied houses, and that the agreement was . .
CitedHalifax Building Society v Thomas and Another CA 29-Jun-1995
Defrauded Mortgagee cannot take surplus on sale
A Building Society cannot keep any excess proceeds of sale of a house mortgaged to it by fraud. Policy was against unjust enrichment and will not allow a lender to take a profit from a fraudulent borrower.
Peter Gibson LJ said: ‘I remain wholly . .
CitedForsyth-Grant v Allen and Another CA 8-Apr-2008
Claimant’s appeal against judgment in action for trespass and nuisance, arising out of the construction by the defendants of a pair of semi-detached houses on land adjoining the Hotel Picardie at Ventnor on the Isle of Wight, which was owned by the . .
CitedExperience Hendrix LLC v PPX Enterprises Inc and Another CA 20-Mar-2003
The claimant had obtained an interim injunction against the defendant for copyright infringement, though it could show no losses. It now sought additionally damages. The defendant argued that it could not have both.
Held: The case arose form . .
CitedEsso Petroleum Co Ltd v Niad Ltd ChD 2001
Esso had entered into a solus agreement with Naid covering one filling station. Esso introduced a marketing scheme called ‘Pricewatch’ under which it made financial support available to its dealers in return for their selling petrol at recommended . .
CitedRegal (Hastings) Ltd v Gulliver HL 20-Feb-1942
Directors Liability for Actions Ouside the Company
Regal negotiated for the purchase of two cinemas in Hastings. There were five directors on the board, including Mr Gulliver, the chairman. Regal incorporated a subsidiary, Hastings Amalgamated Cinemas Ltd, with a share capital of 5,000 pounds. There . .
CitedWWF (World Wide Fund for Nature) and Another v World Wrestling Federation Entertainment Inc CA 2-Apr-2007
The parties had disputed use of the initals WWF, with a compromise reached in 1994 allowing primary use by the Fund with restricted use by the Federation. The Federation now appealed an award of damages made after a finding of a breach of the . .
CitedJaggard v Sawyer and Another CA 18-Jul-1994
Recovery of damages after Refusal of Injunction
The plaintiff appealed against the award of damages instead of an injunction aftter the County court had found the defendant to have trespassed on his land by a new building making use of a private right of way.
Held: The appeal failed.
CitedMinistry of Defence v Ashman and Another CA 3-May-1993
A person who has profited from trespassing on someone else’s land may be ordered to pay what are sometimes called ‘restitutionary damages’ to the landowner. Mesne profits can be calculated as the cost of alternative Local Authority Housing. Kennedy . .
CitedSwordheath Properties Ltd v Tabet CA 1979
The amount of damages payable by a trespasser on land is ordinarily the letting value of the premises. Megaw LJ said: ‘It appears to me to be clear, both as a matter of principle and of authority, that in a case of this sort the plaintiff, when he . .
CitedLivingstone v Rawyards Coal Co HL 13-Feb-1880
Damages or removal of coal under land
User damages were awarded for the unauthorised removal of coal from beneath the appellant’s land, even though the site was too small for the appellant to have mined the coal himself. The appellant was also awarded damages for the damage done to the . .
CitedInverugie Investments Ltd v Hackett PC 1995
The plaintiff was the lessee of 30 apartments within a hotel complex. The defendants ejected the plaintiff and for some years used the apartments as part of the hotel with an average occupancy rate of not more than 40%.
Held: The defendants . .
CitedAB and others v British Coal Corporation and others CA 19-Oct-2006
A collective compensation agreement, which required affected persons to submit their claims, along with medical evidence, through authorised solicitors to be compensated on the basis of agreed damages formula, was introduced. . .
CitedCaffrey v Darby 1801
A fiduciary has a strict duty to account; equity imposes stringent liability on a fiduciary as a deterrent – pour encourager les autres. Lord Eldon LC said: ‘It would be very dangerous, though no fraud could be imputed to the trustees, and no kind . .
MentionedMy Kinda Town Ltd v Soll QBD 1982
Although there was no acquiescence on the part of the plaintiffs, such as to have destroyed their rights, the court was not persuaded that, nevertheless, they should be deprived of an injunction. . .
mentionedMy Kinda Town Ltd v Soll CA 1983
The appeal succeeded. Where there is already a substantial potentiality for confusion of two businesses simply by reason of their being engaged in the same trade, a trader cannot legitimately build on and increase that potentiality in such a way . .
CitedJust I/S v Danish Ministry For Fiscal Affairs ECJ 27-Feb-1980
ECJ Whilst the treaty does not exclude, in principle, a difference in the taxation of various alcoholic products, such a distinction may not be used for the purposes of tax discrimination or in such a manner as . .
Citedvon Colson and Kamann v Land Nordrhein-Westfalen ECJ 10-Apr-1984
LMA Art.177[Art.234] EC proceedings – Ms Van Colson had applied for a job with the prison service and Ms Harz had applied for a job with a private company Deutsche Tradex GmbH. Both had been rejected. The German . .
CitedManfredi v Lloyd Adriatico Assicurazioni SpA; Antonio Cannito v Fondiaria Sai SpA, Nicolo Tricarico; Pasqualina Murgolo v Assitalia SpA C-297/04 ECJ 13-Jul-2006
Europa Article 81 EC- Competition – Agreements, decisions and concerted practices – Accidents caused by motor vehicles, vessels and mopeds – Compulsory civil liability insurance – Increase in premiums – Effect on . .
CitedMasterfoods Ltd v HB Ice Cream Ltd ECJ 14-Dec-2000
Masterfoods Ltd, a subsidiary of Mars Inc, brought proceedings in Ireland against HB Ice Cream Ltd, a subsidiary of Unilever, for a declaration that its agreements to provide retailers with freezer cabinets on terms that they stocked only HB ice . .
CitedOccidental Worldwide Investment Corporation v Skibs A/S Avanti (The Siboen and Sibotre) 1976
The effect of a rescission of a compromise agreement settling the dispute may be to revive the original agreement. As to the liability of a principal for misrepresentations by his agent: ‘If one agent makes a fraudulent statement to another agent, . .
CitedAlbacruz (Cargo Owners) v Albazero ‘The Albazero’ HL 1977
The House was asked as to the extent to which a consignor can claim damages against a carrier in circumstances where the consignor did not retain either property or risk. To the general principle that a person cannot recover substantial damages for . .

Cited by:
CitedRamzan v Brookwide Ltd CA 19-Aug-2011
The defendant had broken through into a neighbour’s flying freehold room, closed it off, and then included it in its own premises for let. It now appealed against the quantum of damages awarded. The judge had found the actions deliberate and with a . .
CitedMorris-Garner and Another v One Step (Support) Ltd SC 18-Apr-2018
The Court was asked in what circumstances can damages for breach of contract be assessed by reference to the sum that the claimant could hypothetically have received in return for releasing the defendant from the obligation which he failed to . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Torts – Other, Damages

Updated: 10 November 2021; Ref: scu.276840