This thesis explores the historical development of the award of exemplary damages at common law, examines the law as it stands today in England, Australia and The United States of America and reviews the rationale for such damages and the criticism made of them.
In the course of the thesis I critically examine the assertion that exemplary damages were first awarded in the constitutional cases of 1763 and argue that in fact they were, in all probability, a feature of the civil law from the earliest period of the development of the jury system and a law of damages.
In my examination of the current law in the three jurisdictions I concentrate on the types of actions which allow exemplary damages, the type of conduct that is a necessary prerequisite for them and the principles for their assessment.
In my review I submit that there is a valid place in the civil law for the award of damages of this character and that they generally serve a useful purpose. In short, that the benefit to society from allowing such damages outweighs any possible detriment.