F.T. Kingsley vs. The Secretary Of State For India
Citation: 72 Ind Cas 270
Plaintiff obtained a license to catch elephants from the Deputy Commissioner for two years; however, the sanction of the government was not obtained by the plaintiff till 15 days had elapsed, secondly, officers wrongfully denied to accept the prescribed royalty and transit passes were not issued to him, such that there was the loss of profits in respect of loss of opportunity to hunt the elephants. Plaintiff claimed damages in respect of breach mentioned above and also for loss of profits.
Issue: Whether plaintiff could claim damages w.r.t. loss of profits when the no. of elephants he could have catched wasn’t mathematically assessable?
Every breach of duty arising out of a contract gives rise to an action for damages, without proof of actual damage; the amount of damages recoverable is, as general rule, governed by the extent of the actual damage sustained in consequence of the defendant’s act.
In cases admitting of proof of such damage, the amount must be established with reasonable certainty: where absolute certainty isn’t possible with mathematical demonstration, reasonably best approximation of damages payable for losses must be done.
In actions for breach of contract, where there has undoubtedly been an infringement of a right but no damages could be assessed either with certainty or with best approximation, nominal damages are recoverable, even though no actual damage can be proved.
Since the plaintiff could prove the average no. of elephants he could capture in a week, therefore, damage should be calculated on the aggregate price of such captures possible. Further by non issuance of transit passes he suffered inconvenience and actual damage w.r.t. loss of opportunity to hunt down the elephants. Hence, judgment was given for the plaintiff.
Author: Vishrut Kansal