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The term “damages” generally refers to the pecuniary compensation which the law awards to a person for the injury he has sustained by reason of the act or default of another whether that act or default is a breach of contract or tort.[1] It is one of the remedies available to a claimant under the common law.

There are two global theoretical basis for the award of damages – correction and deterrence. These theories inform the broad classification of damages into “compensatory” and “punitive.” Compensatory damages are further broken down into “special damages” and “general damages but this classification only applies to claims in tort; it is unknown to contractual claims.[2] Having compensation in mind, the courts award damages to set things right and to put the injured party back to the position he would have been financially or as nearly as possible in the same position, so far as money can do it, had the incident not occurred.

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[1] DHL Int’l Nig. Ltd v Eze-Uzoamaka (2020) 16 NWLR (Pt. 1751) 445 (CA).

[2] Okeke v Oche (1994) 2 NWLR (Pt. 329) 688.