As Baron Parke put it in Robinson v Harman(1848) 154 ER 363 at 365 (in words approvedby the High Court of Australia in Commonwealth of Australia v Amann Aviation Pty Ltd(1991) 174 CLR 64): Where a party sustains a loss by reason of a breach of contract, he is, so far asmoney can do it, to be placed in the same situation, with respect to damages, as if thecontract had been performed.Consequently, damages in contract can take into account any loss of profit that would havebeen earned had the contract been completed. Exemplary or punitive damages (which are awarded to punish a defendant — rather than tocompensate a plaintiff) are not normally awarded in contract though some early movetowards such awards can be detected in recent tortious decisions and also in some of the‘travel’ cases. In those cases travellers have successfully sued for damages for discomfort,distress and disappointment when their holidays and tours have proved to be less than waspromised. In Baltic Shipping v Dillon(1993) 176 CLR 344, for example, Mrs Dillon received$5,000 in damages for disappointment and distress when the cruise liner on which she wasa passenger sank off New Zealand on the tenth day of a planned 14 day cruise.Developments in consumer legislation may also result in future damages going beyond themerely compensatory and including a punitive element.
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