Rookes 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 has been calculated by him to make a profit for himself which may exceed the compensation payable to the plaintiff.
Lord Devlin said: ‘[W]here a defendant with a cynical disregard for a plaintiff’s rights has calculated that money to be made out of his wrongdoing will probably exceed the damages at risk, it is necessary for the law to show that it cannot be broken with impunity. This category is not confined to money making in the strict sense. It extends to cases in which the defendant is seeking gain at the expense of the plaintiff some object – perhaps some property which he covets – which either he could not obtain at all or not obtain except at a price greater than he wants to put down. Exemplary damages can properly be awarded whenever it is necessary to teach a wrongdoer that tort does not pay . . 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.’
Lord Evershed: ‘Nowadays, when it is a rare thing to find a preamble in any public general statute, the field of inquiry is even narrower than it was in former times. In the absence of a preamble there can, I think, be only two cases in which it is permissible to depart from the ordinary and natural sense of the words of an enactment. It must be shown either that the words taken in their natural sense lead to some absurdity or that there is some other clause in the body of the Act inconsistent with, or repugnant to, the enactment in question construed in the ordinary sense of the language in which it is expressed.’

Lord Devlin, Lord Evershed
[1964] AC 1129, [1964] UKHL 1
England and Wales
CitedHuckle v Money 1763
An action for false imprisonment brought by a journeyman printer who apparently had played no part in printing the famous issue No. 45 of ‘The North Briton ‘ but had been arrested under a warrant issued by a Secretary of State authorising a King’s . .
CitedWilkes v Wood CCP 6-Dec-1763
Entry by Force was Unconstitutional
The plaintiff challenged a warrant of commitment to the Tower of London addressed to John Wilkes by name. The plaintiff sought damages after his property was entered by force on behalf of the Secretary of State.
Held: The case was decided on a . .

Cited by:
CitedKuddus 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 . .
CitedKuddus 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 . .
CorrectCassell 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. . .
CitedVine v London Borough of Waltham Forest CA 5-Apr-2000
The act of wheel clamping a car which was unlawfully parked is a trespass to goods. To avoid an action for damages, the clamper must show that the car parker consented to the clamping. He can do so by showing, in accordance with established . .
CitedGleaner Company Ltd and Another v Abrahams PC 14-Jul-2003
Punitive Defamation Damages Order Sustained
(Jamaica) The appellants challenged a substantial award of damages for defamation. They had wrongfully accused a government minister of corruption. There was evidence of substantial financial loss. ‘For nearly sixteen years the defendants, with all . .
CitedAustralian Consolidated Press Limited v Uren PC 24-Jul-1967
The Board declined to interfere with the decision of the High Court of Australia not to review its jurisprudence on exemplary damages: ‘[I]n a sphere of law where its policy calls for decision and where its policy in a particular country is . .
AppliedDrane v Evangelou CA 1978
The court said of a claim that an award of andpound;1000 for exemplary damages was too high: ‘In my opinion a sum awarded by the way of exemplary damages is not to be weighed in any scales. It is a question for the judge, having heard all the . .
CitedDesign Progression Limited v Thurloe Properties Limited ChD 25-Feb-2004
The tenant applied for a licence to assign. The landlord failed to reply, anticipating that delay would allow it to generate a better lease renewal.
Held: The delay was unreasonable and a breach of the landlord’s statutory duty, and was an act . .
AppliedRiches v News Group Newspapers Ltd CA 20-Feb-1985
The defendant published serious defamatory allegations against several plaintiff police officers. The defendant newspaper appealed against an award of andpound;250,000 exemplary damages for their defamation of the respondent police officers.
CitedWatkins v Secretary of State for The Home Departmentand others CA 20-Jul-2004
The claimant complained that prison officers had abused the system of reading his solicitor’s correspondence whilst he was in prison. The defendant argued that there was no proof of damage.
Held: Proof of damage was not necessary in the tort . .
CitedRichardson v Howie CA 13-Aug-2004
The claimant sought damages for assault. In the course of a tempestuous relationship, she said the respondent had physically assaulted her in Barbados. He was later convicted of soliciting her murder. She sought and was awarded aggravated damages, . .
CitedBorders (UK) Ltd and others v Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis and Another CA 3-Mar-2005
The second defendant had received large numbers of stolen books and sold them from his stall. An application for compensation was made at his trial. Compensatory and exemplary damages were sought, but the court had to consider how to estimate the . .
AppliedManson v Associated Newspapers Ltd 1965
Widgery J said: ‘Of course, a newspaper is always published for profit. It is the purpose of a newspaper to make money and build up circulation. You must not go away with the idea that because of that any libel in a newspaper is a libel for which . .
AppliedBroadway Approvals Ltd v Odhams Press Ltd (No 2) CA 1965
A company’s mind is not to be assessed on the totality of knowledge of its employees. Malice was not to be established by forensic imagination however eloquently and subtly expressed.
Russell LJ said: ‘the law of libel seems to have . .
AppliedMcCarey v Associated Newspapers Ltd (No 2) CA 1965
References to damages awards in personal injury actions were legitimate in directing a defamation jury on quantum. . .
AppliedFielding v Variety Incorporated CA 1967
. .
AppliedMafo v Adams CA 1969
The plaintiff tenant was tricked out of the occupancy of the flat he was living in by a blatant fraud perpetrated by the defendant landlord. He sued for damages for fraud, and was awarded compensation for the inconvenience and discomfort. In a case . .
CitedUren v John Fairfax and Sons Pty Ltd 2-Jun-1966
(High Court of Australia) ‘It seems to us that, in a case where there is no qualified privilege to report or repeat the defamatory statements of others, the whole cohesion of the law of defamation would be destroyed, if it were permissible merely to . .
CitedBryant v Macklin CA 23-Jun-2005
The parties were neighbours. Mature trees had been damaged which had provided a screen against pylons. The cost of one directly equivalent tree would be andpound;400,000.
Held: In this case it was not possible to make an award which could . .
CitedMerson 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 . .
CitedAustralian Consolidated Press Ltd v Uren 2-Jun-1966
(High Court of Australia) . .
CitedW v W; J v Raewyn Bell PC 19-Jan-1999
PC (New Zealand) The claimants sught to recover exemplary damages from defendants convicted of criminal offences against them.
Held: There were differences in the system between New Zealand and the English . .
CitedA v Bottrill PC 9-Jul-2002
PC (New Zealand) The defendant was a pathologist who carried out cervical smears. His actions were found to be negligent.
Held: The Board considered whether it would be correct to require an additional . .
CitedDouglas and others v Hello! Ltd and others; similar HL 2-May-2007
In Douglas, the claimants said that the defendants had interfered with their contract to provide exclusive photographs of their wedding to a competing magazine, by arranging for a third party to infiltrate and take and sell unauthorised photographs. . .
CitedTotal Network Sl v Revenue and Customs HL 12-Mar-2008
The House was asked whether an action for unlawful means conspiracy was available against a participant in a missing trader intra-community, or carousel, fraud. The company appealed a finding of liability saying that the VAT Act and Regulations . .
CitedMosley v News Group Newspapers Ltd QBD 24-Jul-2008
The defendant published a film showing the claimant involved in sex acts with prostitutes. It characterised them as ‘Nazi’ style. He was the son of a fascist leader, and a chairman of an international sporting body. He denied any nazi element, and . .
CitedDevenish 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 . .
CitedAT and others v Dulghieru and Another QBD 19-Feb-2009
The claimants had been subject to unlawful human trafficking. Their abductors had been imprisoned, and they now sought damages. The court was asked now to assess the damages to be awarded for sexual enslavement. Each claimant suffered chronic post . .
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 . .
CitedDigicel (St Lucia) Ltd and Others v Cable and Wireless Plc and Others ChD 15-Apr-2010
The claimants alleged breaches of legislation by members of the group of companies named as defendants giving rise to claims in conspiracy to injure by unlawful means. In effect they had been denied the opportunity to make interconnections with . .
CitedMuuse v Secretary of State for The Home Department CA 27-Apr-2010
The claimant, a Dutch national, was detained pending deportation. He was arrested ‘for immigration’ after being given bail in other proceedings. It had been found that that detention was unlawful. He did not come within the criteria for deportation, . .
CitedRegina v Inland Revenue Commissioners ex parte Rossminster Ltd HL 13-Dec-1979
The House considered the power of an officer of the Board of Inland Revenue to seize and remove materials found on premises which a warrant obtained on application to the Common Serjeant authorised him to enter and search; but where the source of . .
CitedLawrence and Another v Fen Tigers Ltd and Others QBD 4-Mar-2011
The claimants had complained that motor-cycle and other racing activities on neighbouring lands were a noise nuisance, but the court also considered that agents of the defendants had sought to intimidate the claimants into not pursuing their action. . .
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 . .
CitedRamzan v Brookwide Ltd ChD 8-Oct-2010
The claimant owned a flying freehold room butting into the defendant’s property. Whilst the claimant’s property was unoccupied, the defendant broke through into the room, blocked off the door to the claimant’s property, and included the room in the . .
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 . .
CitedRamzan v Brookwide Ltd (Ancillary Matters) CA 19-Aug-2011
Costs award after principal judgment . .
CitedRamzan v Agra Ltd; Ramzan v Brookwide Limited Misc 4-Apr-2008
(Birmingham County Court) The parties disputed ownership of a room between their adjoining properties, which incuded a flying freehold. The defendant was said to have broken through into the room, and then blocked off the previous door into the . .
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 . .
CitedThakrar v The Secretary of State for Justice Misc 31-Dec-2015
County Court sitting at Milton Keynes. The claimant prisoner sought damages saying that his personal property had been damaged whilst in the care of the defendant.
Held: The claims succeeded in part. Some damage was deliberate. There was a . .
CitedSecretary of State for Health and Another v Servier Laboratories Ltd and Others SC 2-Jul-2021
Economic tort of causing loss by unlawful means
The Court was asked whether the ‘dealing requirement’ is a constituent part of the tort of causing loss by unlawful means; whether a necessary element of the unlawful means tort is that the unlawful means should have affected the third party’s . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Damages, Defamation

Leading Case

Updated: 01 November 2021; Ref: scu.180662