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Remedies are the means by which the courts try to achieve justice in legal cases, usually taking the form of a solution or form of compensation to try and right the wrong that was done in the case. They can take a number of different forms and do not necessarily have to involve money. However, there are some common trends in terms of what remedies are most common in New Zealand litigation. This article sets out an overview of some of the most common remedies, including: 

  • compensatory damages; 
  • general damages; 
  • interim injunctions; and 
  • exemplary damages.

Compensatory Damages

Compensatory damages are the most common form of damages. As the name suggests, their purpose is to compensate a person for the loss suffered as a result of another person:

  • breaching a contract; 
  • being negligent; or
  • unfairly gaining property or a financial advantage over another person.

The damages will normally be paid to you in money and are sometimes called “special damages”. There are two main types of compensation: 

  • compensation where you get put in the place you would have been in had the legal breach not occurred; and 
  • getting put in the position you were in before the breach. 

What type of compensation will be awarded will depend on the type of claim your business is bringing. 

For example, if your business is alleging a breach of contract, any money a court awards you will generally be the amount of money required to place you in the position if the contract had been performed. For example, if a supplier breached a supply of goods contract, the damages might be the sum of money you would have gone on to sell the goods for; rather than the amount of money you paid for the goods in the first place. 

General Damages

General damages apply where you cannot easily quantify your losses in monetary terms. For example, this might include causing:

  • loss and suffering;
  • indignity;
  • humiliation; or 
  • mental distress. 

In the context of commercial disputes and legal issues facing companies, they may compensate a business for:

  • interruption to their operations; or
  • the discomfort and inconvenience if there has been property damage. 

Interim Injunctions

An injunction is an order made by a court requiring or prohibiting a person from doing something. Many injunctions are ‘interim’ or ‘interlocutory’  injunctions. That means an order made by the court before the court will hear a substantive claim. 

For example, in civil disputes, you might bring an interim injunction to prevent: 

  • infringement of intellectual property rights;
  • breaches of contract; or 
  • misleading and deceptive conduct.

These can be granted even before the court actually hears a case and makes a final decision in each matter.

Exemplary Damages

Exemplary damages are a very specific form of damages that apply solely for the purpose of punishing a defendant for outrageous conduct. They will only be awarded if compensatory damages are not enough to adequately punish the other party for that conduct. A defendant’s conduct needs to be very bad, where they have acted with a really outrageous, flagrant disregard for your rights or those of your business. It also requires the defendant to have been aware of the risk of their actions. 

Key Takeaways

Remedies are means by which courts try to find an acceptable resolution to legal problems and right the wrong that was done in the particular case. There are many different types of remedies. The most common ones in New Zealand tend to involve financial compensation, such as: 

  • compensatory damages;
  • general damages; and 
  • exemplary damages. 

The courts will also use interim injunctions and other types of action to sometimes require things to happen (or stop something from happening). Which remedy is the most relevant will depend on the facts of each case. If you want to know more about remedies in New Zealand legal cases, including which might be relevant for your legal case, contact LegalVision’s disputes and litigation lawyers on 0800 005 570 or fill out the form on this page.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I know what type of damages to seek?

What type of damages you should seek will entirely turn on the type of case you are bringing and what you want to achieve. For example, if what you are seeking is financial compensation, then compensatory damages will be the most appropriate. If you want a party to stop doing something, then you might be looking at an injunction. If you think the other party’s conduct is so outrageous that compensatory damages alone will not suffice, then you might be looking at exemplary damages. 

Are there other forms of remedies, or are these four the only ones?

No, there are lots of other types of remedies. This article provides a very high overview of four different remedies, but there is a lot more detail, and there are many other remedies you could seek. Many of these are detailed in our other articles. 

Are there any general rules that apply when I want to bring a case seeking specific remedies?

Yes, there are lots of specific rules that will apply. In general, the most important things you need to show is that the remedy you are seeking is reasonable. It must also be clearly written in your application to the court. Whenever you bring a case to the court, you are required to specifically state the relief you seek. Different requirements may apply between courts. 

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