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Dodd Properties (Kent) Ltd. v Canterbury City Council [1980] 1 WLR 433

Damages – Freehold Land – Negligence – Remoteness of Damage – Quantum Dispute - Liability

Facts

In 1970, the defendants were building a multi-storey car park near to the complainant’s building. The pile driver they had used had resulted in bad structural damage to the complainant’s building. An action for negligence and nuisance was brought by the complainants in response to the defendant’s construction of the multi-storey car park.

Issues

Although the defendants had eventually admitted liability for negligence, as the dispute had lasted a long time, the costs of repairs had increased. There was now a dispute over quantum and damages due to the complainant. The issue surrounded when the damages for repairs should be assessed. The complainants argued it should be at the date of the hearing, while the defendants argued the damage should have been assessed in 1970 at the time of the construction.

Held

The Court of Appeal held that the cost of the repairs should be assessed at the date of the action in 1978. It was reasonable to defer the cost of repairs if it was going to increase their annual losses. The purpose of damages is meant to be compensatory; it should put the injured party back into the same position they would be in if the damage had not occurred. The damage and cost of repairs should be assessed at the earliest reasonable date, which does not always mean the data damage occurred. All circumstances must be considered prior to awarding damages.


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