The Punitive Damages Debate in Continental Europe: Food for Thought

Lotte Meurkens, ‘The Punitive Damages Debate in Continental Europe: Food For Thought’, in: Lotte Meurkens and Emily Nordin (eds.), The Power of Punitive Damages - Is Europe Missing out?, Antwerp: Intersentia, 2012, p. 3-62.

Maastricht Faculty of Law Working Paper No. 2014/01

47 Pages Posted: 18 Jan 2014 Last revised: 21 Jan 2014

Date Written: January 17, 2014

Abstract

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.

Keywords: Punitive Damages Law, American Law, Functions of Tort Law, Public-Private Divide, Private Enforcement

JEL Classification: K13

Suggested Citation

Meurkens, Lotte, The Punitive Damages Debate in Continental Europe: Food for Thought (January 17, 2014). Lotte Meurkens, ‘The Punitive Damages Debate in Continental Europe: Food For Thought’, in: Lotte Meurkens and Emily Nordin (eds.), The Power of Punitive Damages - Is Europe Missing out?, Antwerp: Intersentia, 2012, p. 3-62.; Maastricht Faculty of Law Working Paper No. 2014/01. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2380554

Lotte Meurkens (Contact Author)

Maastricht University ( email )

P.O. Box 616
Maastricht, 6200MD
Netherlands

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