damages(redirected from compensatory damages)
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(also losses), in civil law, undesirable consequences to the property of a party to civil legal relations, resulting from a violation of law committed by another party.
In Soviet law, the definition of damages is given in civil legislation (art. 36 of the Basic Principles of Civil Legislation of the USSR and the Union Republics and art. 219 of the Civil Code of the RSFSR) in the general provisions on responsibility for breach of obligations. Damages include expenses incurred by the creditor, loss of or harm to the creditor’s property, and profits that the creditor would have obtained if the obligation had been performed by the debtor. Thus, the law affirms the principle of full compensation for damages, on the basis of which obligations arising as the result of the causing of harm are also regulated. Exceptions to this principle, expressed in the establishment of limited financial responsibility for the nonperformance or improper performance of obligations, may be provided by legislation or by agreement of the parties. Such agreements are not permitted between socialist organizations if the extent of responsibility for a given type of obligation is exactly defined by law.
In certain cases the debtor is obligated by law to compensate the creditor only for damages of a specific type. Thus, a party that has violated obligations under a construction contract must compensate the other party for such damages as expenses incurred by the latter or loss of or injury to the latter’s property. Under certain circumstances the limit of the debtor’s liability is established in advance. For example, for damages caused by a motor freight organization in the shipment of freight and baggage, the organization’s responsibility is as follows: (1) in case of loss or shortage of freight or baggage, in the amount of the value of the lost or short freight or baggage; (2) in case of damage to freight or baggage, in the amount by which the value was reduced; and (3) in case of loss of freight or baggage shipped with a declared value, in the amount of the declared value, unless it is shown to be less than the actual value.
The recovery of damages is also allowed outside of legal relations of obligation. The civil codes of the Union republics (for example, art. 500 of the Civil Code of the RSFSR) give an author or his legal successor the right to demand compensation for damages, as in the case of illegal use of a work without the consent of the author. Compensation for damages is also possible in the case of recovery by the owner of property from illegal possession by another.