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Punitive Damages in Europe and a Plea for the Recognition of Legal Pluralism

Professor Duncan Fairgrieve

Punitive Damages in Europe and a Plea for the Recognition of Legal Pluralism

By Erdem Buyuksagis, Ina Ebert, Duncan Fairgrieve, Renee Charlotte Meurkens, Francesco Quarta

This multi-author article aims to demonstrate that, despite the traditional understanding that tort law should serve the sole purpose of remedying the harm caused as precisely as possible, there are growing indications in several continental European legal systems that damages awards are not entirely immune from extra-compensatory, punitive features. This is evident particularly with regard to moral damages, to 'compensation' for the violation of privacy rights and of intellectual property rights. Moreover, statutory civil sanctions, conceived of as alternatives to criminal and administrative penalties, are increasingly being adopted by national legislatures to deter anti-social behaviour. Based upon scholarly work and case law from different European jurisdictions, the authors argue that extra-compensatory damages are frequently applied by national judges, albeit not always in an overt manner, and that such a phenomenon should not be deemed a priori in conflict with the principles of European law.

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