Kuddus v Chief Constable of Leicestershire Constabulary: HL 7 Jun 2001

There is no rule of law preventing the award of exemplary damages against police officers. The fact that no case of misfeasance in public office had led to such awards before 1964, did not prevent such an award now. Although damages are generally not to be punitive, they might be so in appropriate cases. The distinction in Rookes v Barnard between misbehaviour by government officers and officers of independent companies should no longer be followed. The test was whether the basic criteria set down in Rookes v Barnard were met.
Lord Nicholls said: ‘Exemplary damages or punitive damages, the terms are synonymous, stand apart from awards of compensatory damages. They are additional to an award which is intended to compensate a plaintiff fully for the loss he has suffered, both pecuniary and non-pecuniary. They are intended to punish and deter.’ and ‘The availability of exemplary damages has played a significant role in buttressing civil liberties, in claims for false imprisonment and wrongful arrest. From time to time cases do arise where awards of compensatory damages are perceived as inadequate . . . The nature of the defendant’s conduct calls for a further response from the courts. On occasion conscious wrongdoing by a defendant is so outrageous, his disregard for the plaintiff’s rights so contumelious, that something more is needed to show that the law will not tolerate such behaviour. Without an award of exemplary damages, justice will not have been done. Exemplary damages, as a remedy of last resort, fill what would otherwise be a regrettable lacuna.’ Exemplary damages could in principle be awarded where misfeasance in public office was established.
Lord Hutton discussed Rookes v Barnard saying: ‘In a case in which exemplary damages are appropriate, a jury should be directed that if, but only if, the sum which they have in mind to award as compensation (which may, of course, be a sum aggravated by the way in which the defendant has behaved to the plaintiff) is inadequate to punish him for his outrageous conduct, to mark their disapproval of such conduct and to deter him from repeating it, then it can award some larger sum.’ The conduct had to be ‘outrageous’ and to be such that it called for exemplary damages to mark disapproval, to deter and to vindicate the strength of the law.

Lord Nicholls, Lord Hutton
Times 13-Jun-2001, Gazette 12-Jul-2001, [2001] UKHL 29, [2002] 2 AC 122, [2001] 3 All ER 193, [2001] 2 WLR 1789, (2001) 3 LGLR 45
House of Lords, Bailii
England and Wales
CitedRookes v Barnard (No 1) HL 21-Jan-1964
The court set down the conditions for the award of exemplary damages. There are two categories. The first is where there has been oppressive or arbitrary conduct by a defendant. Cases in the second category are those in which the defendant’s conduct . .
Appeal fromKuddus v Chief Constable of Leicestershire CA 10-Feb-2000
Misfeasance in public office was not a tort in which exemplary damages would be available before 1964, and, following the restriction on such awards in Rookes v Barnard was not now a tort for which such damages night be payable. Kindred torts, which . .

Cited by:
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CitedKeegan and Others v Chief Constable of Merseyside CA 3-Jul-2003
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CitedWatkins v Home Office and others HL 29-Mar-2006
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CitedA v Bottrill PC 9-Jul-2002
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CitedMuuse v Secretary of State for The Home Department CA 27-Apr-2010
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CitedLumba (WL) v Secretary of State for The Home Department SC 23-Mar-2011
The claimants had been detained under the 1971 Act, after completing sentences of imprisonment pending their return to their home countries under deportations recommended by the judges at trial, or chosen by the respondent. They challenged as . .
CitedAl Rawi and Others v The Security Service and Others SC 13-Jul-2011
The claimant pursued a civil claim for damages, alleging complicity of the respondent in his torture whilst in the custody of foreign powers. The respondent sought that certain materials be available to the court alone and not to the claimant or the . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Police, Torts – Other, Damages

Leading Case

Updated: 10 November 2021; Ref: scu.162837