Nominal Damages

September 18, 2023
A statue of Lady Justice

They are a type of monetary award granted by a court to a plaintiff (the party bringing a lawsuit) when they have established that their legal rights were violated, but they have not suffered substantial or measurable financial harm as a result of the violation. Nominal damages are typically awarded as a symbolic or token amount, often just a small sum of money, and they serve to acknowledge the plaintiff’s legal victory without providing substantial compensation for actual losses.

Nominal damages are distinct from compensatory damages, which are awarded to reimburse the plaintiff for actual financial losses or harm suffered. They are also distinct from punitive damages, which are meant to punish the defendant for particularly egregious conduct and to deter others from engaging in similar behavior. Nominal damages are a way for the court to formally recognize a violation of legal rights and provide some form of legal remedy when no significant financial loss has occurred.

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This article is written by Shivani Singh, faculty at Jyoti Judiciary.

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