Lotte Meurkens, ‘The Punitive Damages Debate in Continental Europe: Food for Thought’

Punitive damages, a civil sanction that is already widely discussed in American law, receives growing attention in continental Europe. Does this civil remedy have a future there, or should European policymakers and legal scholars by definition reject it, for example because of the often heard fear for the development of a so-called ‘compensation culture’ or for exorbitant civil damages awards resulting from excessive use of civil litigation? Because there is an extensive amount of American punitive damages law and practice and the Americans have much experience with the civil sanction, reference is especially made to American law. This paper, which forms the introductory chapter of the book ‘The Power of Punitive Damages’ published in 2012, concerns the following main aspects: (1) American punitive damages law in a nutshell, (2) reasons for the non-existence of punitive damages in continental Europe, (3) reasons for the increased European interest in punitive damages, and (4) the road ahead.

Meurkens, Lotte, The Punitive Damages Debate in Continental Europe: Food for Thought (January 17, 2014). Maastricht Faculty of Law Working Paper No. 2014/01.

First posted 2014-01-19 09:30:07

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