Hadley v Baxendale: Exc 23 Feb 1854

Contract Damages; What follows the Breach Naturaly

The plaintiffs had sent a part of their milling machinery for repair. The defendants contracted to carry it, but delayed in breach of contract. The plaintiffs claimed damages for the earnings lost through the delay. The defendants appealed, saying that the damages were too remote.
Held: The case was to be retried.
Alderson B said: ‘Where two parties have made a contract which one of them has broken, the damages which the other party ought to receive in respect of such breach of contract should be such as may be fairly and reasonably be considered either as arising naturally, ie according to the usual course of things, from such breach of contract itself, or such as may reasonably be supposed to have been in the contemplation of both parties, at the time they made the contract, as the probable result of the breach of it. Now, if the special circumstances under which the contract was actually made where communicated by the plaintiffs to the defendants, and thus known to both parties, the damages resulting from the breach of such a contract, which they would reasonably contemplate, would be the amount of injury which would ordinarily follow from a breach of contract under these special circumstances so known and communicated. But, on the other hand, if these special circumstances were wholly unknown to the party breaking the contract, he, at the most, could only be supposed to have had in his contemplation the amount of injury which would arise generally, and in the great multitude of cases not affected by any special circumstances, from such a breach of contract. For such loss would neither have flowed naturally from the breach of this contract in the great multitude of such cases occurring under ordinary circumstances, nor were the special circumstances, which, perhaps, would have made it a reasonable and natural consequence of such breach of contract, communicated to or known by the defendants. The Judge ought, therefore, to have told the jury, that, upon the facts then before them, they ought not to take the loss of profits into consideration at all in estimating the damages. There must therefore be a new trial in this case.’

Alderson B
[1854] EWHC Exch J70, [1854] EngR 296, (1854) 9 Exch 341, (1854) 156 ER 145
Bailii, Commonlii
England and Wales
Cited by:
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The defendant solicitors acted for the plaintiff in the purchase of land, but failed to undertake a commons search which would have revealed an entry which would prevent the client pursuing his development. The defect was discovered only when . .
CitedWatford Electronics Ltd v Sanderson CFL Ltd CA 23-Feb-2001
The plaintiff had contracted to purchase software from the respondent. The system failed to perform, and the defendant sought to rely upon its exclusion and limitation of liability clauses.
Held: It is for the party claiming that a contract . .
CitedPlatform Home Loans Ltd v Oyston Shipways Ltd and others HL 18-Feb-1999
The plaintiffs had lent about 1 million pounds on the security of property negligently valued at 1.5 million pounds. The property was sold for much less than that and the plaintiffs suffered a loss of 680,000 pounds. The judge found that the . .
CitedCaledonian North Sea Ltd v London Bridge Engineering Ltd and Others HL 7-Feb-2002
Substantial personal injury claims had been settled following the Piper Alpha disaster. Where a contractual indemnity had been provided under a contract, and insurance had also been taken out, but the insurance had not been a contractual . .
CitedAlfred Mcalpine Construction Limited v Panatown Limited HL 17-Feb-2000
A main contractor who was building not on his own land, would only be free to claim damages from a sub-contractor for defects in the building where the actual owner of the land would not also have had a remedy. Here, the land owner was able to sue . .
CitedJackson and Davies (Trading As Samson Lancastrian) v Royal Bank of Scotland CA 28-Jun-2000
In error, the bank disclosed to one customer, the mark up being taken by another in selling on goods to that first customer. The second customer went to make its purchasers direct, and the first customer sought damages from the bank. The bank . .
AppliedJackson and Another v Royal Bank of Scotland HL 27-Jan-2005
The claimants sought damages, alleging that a breach of contract by the defendant had resulted in their being unable to earn further profits elsewhere. The defendant said the damages claimed were too remote. The bank had, by error, disclosed to one . .
RestatedVictoria Laundry (Windsor) Ltd v Newman Industries CA 1949
The plaintiffs claimed for loss of the profits from their laundry business because of late delivery of a boiler.
Held: The Court did not regard ‘loss of profits from the laundry business’ as a single type of loss. They distinguished losses . .
CitedCzarnikow (C ) Ltd v Koufos; The Heron II HL 17-Oct-1967
The vessel had arrived late at Basrah in breach of the terms of the charterparty. The House was asked as to the measure of damages. The charterers had intended to sell the cargo of sugar promptly upon arrival, and now claimed for the fall in the . .
AppliedCox v Philips Industries Ltd 15-Oct-1975
Damages for distress, vexation and frustration, including consequent ill-health, could be recovered for breach of a contract of employment if it could be said to have been in the contemplation of the parties that the breach would cause such distress . .
CitedHeywood v Wellers CA 1976
The claimant instructed solicitors in injunction proceedings which they conducted negligently. The solicitors had put the case in the hands of an incompetent junior clerk. She sued acting in person, and succeeded but now appealed the only limited . .
CitedCroudace Construction Limited v Cawoods CA 1978
A clause in a contract provided that: ‘We are not under any circumstances to be liable for any consequential loss or damage caused or arising by reason of late supply or any fault, failure or defect in any material or goods supplied by us or by . .
CitedPegler Ltd v Wang (UK) Ltd TCC 25-Feb-2000
Standard Conract – Wide Exclusions, Apply 1977 Act
The claimant had acquired a computer system from the defendant, which had failed. It was admitted that the contract had been broken, and the court set out to decide the issue of damages.
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CitedSmithkline Beecham Plc Glaxosmithkline UK Ltd and Another v Apotex Europe Ltd and others (No 2) CA 23-May-2006
The parties to the action had given cross undertakings to support the grant of an interim injunction. A third party subsequently applied to be joined, and now sought to take advantage of the cross undertakings to claim the losses incurred through . .
CitedWiseman v Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd QBD 29-Jun-2006
The claimant said that he was refused permission to board a flight by the defendants representative without paying a bribe, and was publicly humiliated for not doing so.
Held: Whilst the claimant could recover for his own additional expenses, . .
CitedTransfield Shipping Inc of Panama v Mercator Shipping Inc of Monrovia ComC 1-Dec-2006
The owners made substantial losses after the charterers breached the contract by failing to redliver the ship on time as agreed.
Held: On the facts found the Owners’ primary claim is not too remote. To the knowledge of the Charterers, it was . .
CitedThe ‘Pegase’ 1981
The court considered the measure of damages for breach of contract in the light of the cases in the Heron II and Victoria Laundry: ‘the principle in Hadley v Baxendale is now no longer stated in terms of two rules, but rather in terms of a single . .
CitedSempra Metals Ltd v Inland Revenue Commissioners and Another HL 18-Jul-2007
The parties agreed that damages were payable in an action for restitution, but the sum depended upon to a calculation of interest. They disputed whether such interest should be calculated on a simple or compound basis. The company sought compound . .
CitedPenwith District Council v VP Developments Ltd TCC 2-Nov-2007
The council sought to appeal against an interim arbitration award.
Held: Leave to appeal was refused. The application was wholly unjustified. This was an appeal on the facts dressed up as an appeal on law. . .
CitedTransfield Shipping Inc v Mercator Shipping Inc (The Achilleas) HL 9-Jul-2008
The parties contracted to charter the Achileas. The charterer gave notice to terminate the hire, and the owner found a new charterer. Until the termination the charterers sub-chartered. That charter was not completed, delaying the ship for the . .
CitedDoyle v Olby (Ironmongers) Ltd CA 31-Jan-1969
The plaintiff had been induced by the fraudulent misrepresentation of the defendant to buy an ironmonger’s business for 4,500 pounds plus stock at a valuation of 5,000 pounds. Shortly after the purchase, he discovered the fraud and started the . .
CitedMarkerstudy Insurance Company Ltd and Others v Endsleigh Insurance Services Ltd ComC 18-Feb-2010
The claimant insurers alleged the mishandling of insurance claims by the defendant of many claims leading to substantial losses. The parties asked the court to determine a basis for calculation of damages under the contract.
Held: A similar . .
CitedKpohraror v Woolwich Building Society CA 1996
The Society, acting as a bank, had at first failed to pay its customer’s cheque for andpound;4,550, even though there were sufficient funds. The bank said that it had been reported lost. The customer sought damages to his business reputation.
CitedLittlewoods Ltd and Others v Commissioners for Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs SC 1-Nov-2017
The appellants had overpaid under a mistake of law very substantial sums in VAT over several years. The excess had been repaid, but with simple interest and not compound interest, which the now claimed (together with other taxpayers amounting to 17 . .
AppliedHerbert Clayton and Jack Waller Ltd v Oliver HL 1930
When awarding damages for breach of contract courts should take care to confine the damages to their proper ambit: making good financial loss. When considering an award of damages to an actor who should have been billed to appear at the London . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Contract, Damages

Leading Case

Updated: 01 November 2021; Ref: scu.182804