Merson v Cartwright, The Attorney General: PC 13 Oct 2005

(Bahamas) The defendant police had appealed the quantum of damages awarded to the claimant for assault and battery and false imprisonment and malicious prosecution, saying that she had been doubly compensated. The claimant now appealed reduction of her damages. The Bahamian police had subjected her to ‘Gestapo like tactics.’
Held: The several heads of damages did not co-incide with each other. Though the judge had not made quite clear how the damages claim had been calculated it remained clear that she had taken the correct approach, the inference of duplication was unsound, and the award was re-instated. The Board upheld the award of vindicatory damages, in order ‘to vindicate the right of the complainant . . to carry on his or her life in the Bahamas free from unjustified executive interference, mistreatment or oppression’
Lord Scott said: ‘The purpose of a vindicatory award is not a punitive purpose. It is not to teach the executive not to misbehave. The purpose is to vindicate the right of the complainant . . to carry on his or her life in the Bahamas free from unjustified executive interference, mistreatment or oppression. The sum appropriate to be awarded to achieve this purpose will depend upon the nature of the particular infringement and the circumstances relating to that infringement. It will be a sum at the discretion of the trial judge. In some cases a suitable declaration may suffice to vindicate the right; in other cases an award of damages, including substantial damages, may seem to be necessary.’


Lord Nicholls of Birkenhead, Lord Hoffmann, Lord Scott of Foscote, Lord Walker of Gestingthorpe, Baroness Hale of Richmond


[2005] UKPC 38


Bailii, PC


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 . .
CitedAttorney General of Trinidad and Tobago v Ramanoop PC 23-Mar-2005
(Trinidad and Tobago) A police officer had unjustifiably roughed up, arrested, taken to the police station and locked up Mr Ramanoop, who now sought constitutional redress, including exemplary damages. He did not claim damages for the nominate torts . .
CitedCassell and Co Ltd v Broome and Another HL 23-Feb-1972
Exemplary Damages Award in Defamation
The plaintiff had been awarded damages for defamation. The defendants pleaded justification. Before the trial the plaintiff gave notice that he wanted additional, exemplary, damages. The trial judge said that such a claim had to have been pleaded. . .

Cited by:

CitedAshley and Another v Chief Constable of Sussex Police HL 23-Apr-2008
The claimants sought to bring an action for damages after a family member suspected of dealing drugs, was shot by the police. At the time he was naked. The police officer had been acquitted by a criminal court of murder. The chief constable now . .
CitedSubiah v The Attorney General of Trinidad and Tobago PC 3-Nov-2008
(Trinidad and Tobago) The Board considered the extent of damages for infringement of the claimant’s constitutional rights. He had been on board a bus. He complained when a policeman was allowed not to buy a ticket. The same constable arrested him as . .
CitedTakitota v the Attorney General and others PC 18-Mar-2009
(Bahamas) The applicant a tourist had been wrongfully detained in appalling conditions in the Bahamas for over eight years after he lost his documents. He now appealed against an award of $500,000 dollars compensation.
Held: ‘it would not be . .
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 . .
CitedTakitota v The Attorney General and Others PC 18-Mar-2009
Bahamas – The claimant appeald as to the amount of compensation awarded to him for his unlawful detention for over eight years, in appalling prison conditions. The Court of Appeal categorised his treatment not only as ‘less than humane’ but as a . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Commonwealth, Damages

Updated: 04 July 2022; Ref: scu.231106