Compensation from court

By Team Legal Helpline India, October 22, 2017

The law of compensation from the court is dealt under the law of contract and under the Specific Relief Act besides other provisions of law. The courts have powers to grant compensation in suitable cases where the court feels that the party has suffered losses. We will discuss here the powers of the court to grant compensation under the specific relief act and the Indian Contract Act. Section 73 of the Indian contract act deals with the issue of the award of compensation to the aggrieved party.

Section 73 of the Indian Contract Act, 1872 reads as under:

  1. Compensation for loss or damage caused by breach of contract. When a contract has been broken, the party who suffers by such breach is entitled to receive, from the party who has broken the contract, compensation for any loss or damage caused to him thereby, which naturally arose in the usual course of things from such breach, or which the parties knew, when they made the contract, to be likely to result from the breach of it.When a contract has been broken, the party who suffers by such breach is entitled to receive, from the party who has broken the contract, compensation for any loss or damage caused to him thereby, which naturally arose in the usual course of things from such breach, or which the parties knew, when they made the contract, to be likely to result from the breach of it. Such compensation is not to be given for any remote and indirect loss or damage sustained by reason of the breach. Compensation for failure to discharge obligation resembling those created by contract. When an obligation resembling those created by contract has been incurred and has not been discharged, any person injured by the failure to discharge it is entitled to receive the same compensation from the party in default, as if such person had contracted to discharge it and had broken his contract. When an obligation resembling those created by contract has been incurred and has not been discharged, any person injured by the failure to discharge it is entitled to receive the same compensation from the party in default, as if such person had contracted to discharge it and had broken his contract.” Explanation: In estimating the loss or damage arising from a breach of contract, the means which existed of remedying the inconvenience caused by the non-performance of the contract must be taken into account.

    Illustrations

(a) A contracts to sell and deliver 50 maunds of saltpetre to B, at a certain price to be paid on delivery. A breaks his promise. B is entitled to receive from A, by way of compensation, the sum, if any, by which the contract price falls short of the price for which B might have obtained 50 maunds of saltpetre of like quality at the time when the saltpetre ought to have been delivered. (a) A contract to sell and deliver 50 maunds of saltpetre to B, at a certain price to be paid on delivery. A breaks his promise. B is entitled to receive from A, by way of compensation, the sum, if any, by which the contract price falls short of the price for which B might have obtained 50 maunds of saltpetre of like quality at the time when the saltpetre ought to have been delivered.

(b) A hires Bs ship to go to Bombay, and there takes on board, on the first of January, a cargo, which A is to provide, and to bring it to Calcutta, the freight to be paid when earned. Bs ship does not go to Bombay, but A has opportunities of procuring suitable conveyance for the cargo upon terms as advantageous as those on which he had chartered the ship. A avails himself of those opportunities but is put to trouble and expense in doing so. A is entitled to receive compensation from B in respect of such trouble and expense. (b) A hires Bs ship to go to Bombay, and there takes on board, on the first of January, a cargo, which A is to provide, and to bring it to Calcutta, the freight to be paid when earned. Bs ship does not go to Bombay, but A has opportunities of procuring suitable conveyance for the cargo upon terms as advantageous as those on which he had chartered the ship. A avails himself of those opportunities but is put to trouble and expense in doing so. A is entitled to receive compensation from B in respect of such trouble and expense.

(c) A Contracts to buy of B, at a stated price, 50 maunds of rice, no time being fixed for delivery. A afterwards informs B that he will not accept the rice if tendered to him. B is entitled to receive from A, by way of compensation, the amount, if any, by which the contract price exceeds that which B can obtain for the rice at the time when A informs B that he will not accept it. (c) A contracts to buy of B, at a stated price, 50 maunds of rice, no time being fixed for delivery. A afterwards informs B that he will not accept the rice if tendered to him. B is entitled to receive from A, by way of compensation, the amount, if any, by which the contract price exceeds that which B can obtain for the rice at the time when A informs B that he will not accept it.

(d) A contracts to buy Bs ship for 60,000 rupees, but breaks his promise. A must pay to B, by way of compensation, the excess, if any, of the contract price over the price which B can obtain for the ship at the time of the breach of promise. (d) A contracts to buy Bs ship for 60,000 rupees, but breaks his promise. A must pay to B, by way of compensation, the excess, if any, of the contract price over the price which B can obtain for the ship at the time of the breach of promise.

(e) A, the owner of a boat, contracts with B to take a cargo of jute to Mirzapur, for sale at that place, starting on a specified day. The boat, owing to some avoidable cause, does not start at the time appointed, whereby the arrival of the cargo at Mirzapur is delayed beyond the time when it would have arrived if the boat had sailed according to the contract. After that date, and before the arrival of the cargo, the price of jute falls. The measure of the compensation payable to B by A is the difference between the price which B could have obtained for the cargo at Mirzapur at the time when it would have arrived if forwarded in due course, and its market price at the time when it actually arrived. (e) A, the owner of a boat, contracts with B to take a cargo of jute to Mirzapur, for sale at that place, starting on a specified day. The boat, owing to some avoidable cause, does not start at the time appointed, whereby the arrival of the cargo at Mirzapur is delayed beyond the time when it would have arrived if the boat had sailed according to the contract. After that date, and before the arrival of the cargo, the price of jute falls. The measure of the compensation payable to B by A is the difference between the price which B could have obtained for the cargo at Mirzapur at the time when it would have arrived if forwarded in due course, and its market price at the time when it actually arrived.

(f) A contracts to repair Bs house in a certain manner, and receives payment in advance. A repairs the house, but not according to contract. B is entitled to recover from A the cost of making the repairs conform to the contract. (f) A contracts to repair Bs house in a certain manner, and receives payment in advance. A repairs the house, but not according to contract. B is entitled to recover from A the cost of making the repairs conform to the contract.

(g) A contracts to let his ship to B for a year, from the first of January, for a certain price. Freights rise, and, on the first of January, the hire obtainable for the ship is higher than the contract price. A breaks his promise. He must pay to B, by way of compensation, a sum equal to the difference between the contract price and the price for which B could hire a similar ship for a year on and from the first of January. (g) A contracts to let his ship to B for a year, from the first of January, for a certain price. Freights rise, and, on the first of January, the hire obtainable for the ship is higher than the contract price. A breaks his promise. He must pay to B, by way of compensation, a sum equal to the difference between the contract price and the price for which B could hire a similar ship for a year on and from the first of January.

(h) A contracts to supply B with a certain quantity of iron at a fixed price, being a higher price than that for which A could procure and deliver the iron. B wrongfully refuses to receive the iron. B must pay to A, by way of compensation, the difference between the contract price of the iron and the sum for which A could have obtained and delivered it. (h) A contracts to supply B with a certain quantity of iron at a fixed price, being a higher price than that for which A could procure and deliver the iron. B wrongfully refuses to receive the iron. B must pay to A, by way of compensation, the difference between the contract price of the iron and the sum for which A could have obtained and delivered it.

(i) A delivers to B, a common carrier, a machine, to be conveyed, without delay, to As mill, informing B that his mill is stopped for want of machine. B unreasonably delays the delivery of the machine, and A, in consequence, loses a profitable contract with the Government. A is entitled to receive from B, by way of compensation, the average amount of profit which would have been made by the working of the mill during the time that delivery of it was delayed, but not the loss sustained through the loss of the Government contract. (i) A delivers to B, a common carrier, a machine, to be conveyed, without delay, to As mill, informing B that his mill is stopped for want of machine. B unreasonably delays the delivery of the machine, and A, in consequence, loses a profitable contract with the Government. A is entitled to receive from B, by way of compensation, the average amount of profit which would have been made by the working of the mill during the time that delivery of it was delayed, but not the loss sustained through the loss of the Government contract.

(j) A, having contracted with B to supply B with 1,000 tons of iron at 100 rupees a ton, to be delivered at a stated time, contracts with C for the purchase of 1,000 tons of iron at 80 rupees a ton, telling C that he does so for the purpose of performing his contract with B. C fails to perform his contract with A, who cannot procure other iron, and B, in consequence, rescinds the contract. C must pay to A 20,000 rupees, being the profit which A would have made by the performance of his contract with B. (j) A, having contracted with B to supply B with 1,000 tons of iron at 100 rupees a ton, to be delivered at a stated time, contracts with C for the purchase of 1,000 tons of iron at 80 rupees a ton, telling C that he does so for the purpose of performing his contract with B. C fails to perform his contract with A, who cannot procure other iron, and B, in consequence, rescinds the contract. C must pay to A 20,000 rupees, being the profit which A would have made by the performance of his contract with B.

(k) A contracts with B to make and deliver to B, by a fixed day, for a specified price, a certain piece of machinery. A does not deliver the piece of machinery, at the time specified, and, in consequence of this, B is obliged to procure another at a higher price than that which he was to have paid to A, and is prevented from performing a contract which B had made with a third person at the time of his contract with A (but which had not been communicated to A), and is compelled to make compensation for breach of that contract. A must pay to B, by way of compensation, the difference between the contract price of the price of machinery and the sum paid by B for another, but not the sum paid by B to the third person by way of compensation. (k) A contracts with B to make and deliver to B, by a fixed day, for a specified price, a certain piece of machinery. A does not deliver the piece of machinery, at the time specified, and, in consequence of this, B is obliged to procure another at a higher price than that which he was to have paid to A, and is prevented from performing a contract which B had made with a third person at the time of his contract with A (but which had not been communicated to A), and is compelled to make compensation for breach of that contract. A must pay to B, by way of compensation, the difference between the contract price of the price of machinery and the sum paid by B for another, but not the sum paid by B to the third person by way of compensation.

(l) A, a builder, contracts to erect and finish a house by the first of January, in order that B may give possession of it at that time to C, to whom B has contracted to let it. A is informed of the contract between B and C. A builds the house so badly that, before the first of January, it falls down and has to be re-built by B, who, in consequence, loses the rent which he was to have received from C, and is obliged to make compensations to C for the breach of his contract. A must make compensation to B for the cost of rebuilding of the house, for the rent lost, and for the compensation made to C. (l) A, a builder, contracts to erect and finish a house by the first of January, in order that B may give possession of it at that time to C, to whom B has contracted to let it. A is informed of the contract between B and C. A builds the house so badly that, before the first of January, it falls down and has to be re-built by B, who, in consequence, loses the rent which he was to have received from C, and is obliged to make compensations to C for the breach of his contract. A must make compensation to B for the cost of rebuilding of the house, for the rent lost, and for the compensation made to C.

(m) A sells certain merchandise to B, warranting it to be of a particular quality, and B, in reliance upon this warranty, sells it to C with a similar warranty. The goods prove to be not according to the warranty, and B becomes liable to pay C a sum of money by way of compensation. B is entitled to be reimbursed this sum by A. (m) A sells certain merchandise to B, warranting it to be of a particular quality, and B, in reliance upon this warranty, sells it to C with a similar warranty. The goods prove to be not according to the warranty, and B becomes liable to pay C a sum of money by way of compensation. B is entitled to be reimbursed this sum by A.”

(n) A contracts to pay a sum of money to B on a day specified. A does not pay the money on that day. B, in consequence of not receiving the money on that day, is unable to pay his debts, and is totally ruined. A is not liable to make good to B anything except the principal sum he contracted to pay, together with interest up to the day of payment. (n) A contracts to pay a sum of money to B on a day specified. A does not pay the money on that day. B, in consequence of not receiving the money on that day, is unable to pay his debts, and is totally ruined. A is not liable to make good to B anything except the principal sum he contracted to pay, together with interest up to the day of payment.

(o) A contracts to deliver 50 maunds of saltpetre to B on the first of January, at a certain price, B, afterwards, before the first of January, contracts to sell the saltpetre to C at a price higher than the market price of the first of January. A breaks his promise. In estimating the compensation payable by A to B, the market price of the first of January, and not the profit which would have arisen to B from the sale to C, is to be taken into account. (o) A contracts to deliver 50 maunds of saltpetre to B on the first of January, at a certain price, B, afterwards, before the first of January, contracts to sell the saltpetre to C at a price higher than the market price of the first of January. A breaks his promise. In estimating the compensation payable by A to B, the market price of the first of January, and not the profit which would have arisen to B from the sale to C, is to be taken into account.

(p) A contracts to sell and deliver 500 bales of cotton to B on a fixed day. A knows nothing of Bs mode of conducting his business. A breaks his promise, and B, having no cotton, is obliged to close his mill. A is not responsible to B for the loss caused to B by closing of the mill. (p) A contracts to sell and deliver 500 bales of cotton to B on a fixed day. A knows nothing of Bs mode of conducting his business. A breaks his promise, and B, having no cotton, is obliged to close his mill. A is not responsible to B for the loss caused to B by closing of the mill.

(q) A contracts to sell and deliver to B, on the first of January, certain cloth which B intends to manufacture into caps of a particular kind, for which there is no demand, except at that season. The cloth is not delivered till after the appointed time, and too late to be used that year in making caps. B is entitled to receive from A, by way of compensation, the difference between the contract price of the cloth and its market price at the time of delivery, but not the profits which he expected to obtain by making caps, nor the expenses which he has been put to in making preparation for the manufacturer. (q) A contracts to sell and deliver to B, on the first of January, certain cloth which B intends to manufacture into caps of a particular kind, for which there is no demand, except at that season. The cloth is not delivered till after the appointed time, and too late to be used that year in making caps. B is entitled to receive from A, by way of compensation, the difference between the contract price of the cloth and its market price at the time of delivery, but not the profits which he expected to obtain by making caps, nor the expenses which he has been put to in making preparation for the manufacturer.

(r) A, a ship owner, contracts with B to convey him from Calcutta to Sydney in As ship, sailing on the first of January, and B pays to A, by way of deposit, one-half of his passage-money. The ship does not sail on the first of January, and B, after being, in consequence, detained in Calcutta for some time, and thereby put to some expense, proceeds to Sydney in another vessel, and, in consequence, arriving too late in Sydney, loses a sum of money. A is liable to repay to B his deposit, with interest, and the expense to which he is put by his detention in Calcutta, and the excess, if any, of the passage-money paid for the second ship over that agreed upon for the first, but not the sum of money which B lost by arriving in Sydney too late. (r) A, a ship owner, contracts with B to convey him from Calcutta to Sydney in a ship, sailing on the first of January, and B pays to A, by way of deposit, one-half of his passage-money. The ship does not sail on the first of January, and B, after being, in consequence, detained in Calcutta for some time, and thereby put to some expense, proceeds to Sydney in another vessel, and, in consequence, arriving too late in Sydney, loses a sum of money. A is liable to repay to B his deposit, with interest, and the expense to which he is put by his detention in Calcutta, and the excess, if any, of the passage-money paid for the second ship over that agreed upon for the first, but not the sum of money which B lost by arriving in Sydney too late.

Every party seeking the relief of specific performance is allowed by this Section to claim compensation for the breach of the contract. Such relief may be claimed either in addition to specific performance or in substitution of it. If the court is of opinion that specific performance ought not to be ordered, the court may award compensation if a valid contract and its breach are established. Should the court find that specific performance by itself would not be sufficient relief, it may, in addition, award compensation also to meet the ends of justice. Compensation would be assessed in accordance with the principles stated in Section 73 of the Contract Act. Even where the contract has become incapable of specific enforcement, the court can exercise the power under this section to award compensation. This principle is applicable in various situations and circumstances leading to frustration of contracts or violation of contracts or non-fulfilment of contracts.

It is necessary that the plaintiff should have asked for the relief of compensation. The court may, however, allow the plaint to be amended at any stage to enable the plaintiff to claim compensation. The relief of compensation cannot be given by the court on its own unless the party has asked for the same. This principle of law has been followed by the courts to maintain judicial discipline and prudence during the court proceedings.

Where, for example, a buyer of land is allowed to recover it specifically and it takes him about a year to get the relief, the court may award compensation for the loss of time. Following two illustrations appeared under the earlier Act:

A, a purchaser, sues B, his vendor, for specific performance of a contract for the sale of a patent. Before the hearing of the suit the patent expires. The court may award a compensation for the non-performance of the contract, and may, if necessary, amend the plaint for that purpose.

A sues for the specific performance of a resolution passed by the Directors of a public company, under which he was entitled to have certain shares allotted to him, and for compensation for the non-performance of the resolution. All the shares had been allotted before the institution of the suit. The court may, under this section, award a compensation for the non-performance.

It is clear that the law of compensation is governed by a certain set of laws which regulate the entire matter, the specific provision in this regard is contained in Section 73 of the Indian contract act and the courts have powers to grant compensation is suitable cases where the courts deem it fit to award compensation. This provision is often used by the Indian courts to compensate the aggrieved party to claim the compensation for the damages suffered due to the mischief by the other party leading either to the frustration of the contract or any other thing which may lead to the non-performance of the contract.

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