Punitive damages remain one of the most controversial areas in the history of tort law. With the growing discourse on the subject on the continent and indeed across the globe, the Institute for European Tort Law of the Austrian Academy of Sciences concluded that it seemed worthwhile and even an urgency to discuss, thoroughly and on a comparative basis, the nature, role and suitability of such damages in tort law and private law in general. This is especially so in light of the attempts to reform and unify continental European legal systems and the recent seminal judgments and consultations in this field of law.
The Institute for European Tort Law thus embarked on a comprehensive study on punitive damages in 2007 and its publication, Punitive Damages: Common Law and Civil Law Perspectives, is now widely available. The European Centre of Tort and Insurance Law (ECTIL) also supported this publication through an operating grant from the European Commission.
The study covers jurisdictions that openly endorse punitive damages, in particular, England, South Africa and the United States as well as those jurisdictions which purport (sometimes emphatically) to deny their existence (although some of them covertly incorporate punitive damages into the framework of their tort systems). The position in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Hungary, the Scandinavian countries as well as EU Law are thus considered.
The study also includes a report on punitive damages from an insurance, law and economics and private international law perspective. A report on aggravated damages precedes a comparative report and conclusions. The publication follows a Conference held in November 2008 which was chaired by Sir Henry Brooke, whose chairmanship of the Law Commission for England and Wales coincided with the start of the Commission’s consultation on punitive damages, and Prof. Ken Oliphant, the recently appointed Director of the Institute for European Tort Law.
It will appeal to students, academics, practitioners, judges, policy makers and those in the insurance industry.