It is a monetary compensation awarded by a court of law in favour of a victorious party. Damages can only be awarded if a party asks for it, though the court may grant an amount lower than the one asked for but it cannot be higher.

Below are listed types of damages in law;

Actual damages (Compensatory damages)

Actual damages (also called "compensatory damages") are damages which compensate an injured party for his actual injury and nothing more or less.

Consequential damages (Special damages)

Consequential damages, also known as “special damages" are referring to losses which result indirectly, rather than immediately and directly, from a wrongful act. Consequential damages must be specially pleaded and proved; for example, by showing in a contract action that defendant had reason to know of claimant's particular requirements.

Punitive damages (Exemplary damages)

Damages beyond the amount required merely to compensate a plaintiff for his injuries; typically awarded where a defendant has acted willfully or maliciously. The basis for an award of such damages may be either in the common law or by statute; some statutes permit a plaintiff to recover double or treble (triple) damages from a defendant for certain misconduct.

Treble damages

Treble damages indicate that a statute permits a court to triple the amount of the actual/compensatory damages to be awarded to a prevailing plaintiff.

Expectation damages

Measure of contract damages designed to put a non-breaching party in the position he would have enjoyed under the contract had it not been breached. For example, in the event of buyer's breach, seller is entitled to the difference between the actual sale price of the item and the contract price.

Incidental damages

Damages secondary to a claim for actual damages arising out of breach of contract. Buyer's incidental damages include expenses incurred in inspecting, transporting and storing rejected goods; seller's incidental damages include expenses incurred in stopping delivery, transporting and storing goods following buyer's breach. See Actual damages.

Liquidated damages

Amount of damages which a contract states one party must pay another upon breach. In order to be enforceable, liquidated damages must constitute a reasonable estimate of the amount of actual damages to be incurred upon breach; some jurisdictions impose additional requirements such as that a liquidated damages clause be printed in type different from other contractual provisions.

Nominal damages

Damages awarded for a technical, but insignificant injury.


  • New Millennium Law Dictionary by Dave Simon
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