How have contingencies been interpreted in general damages calculations?

Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada


The following excerpt is from Dobbin v Alexander Enterprises Limited, 1987 CanLII 3961 (NL CA):

In Crawley v. Sears, supra, at 241, I said: "I should make one brief reference to the contingencies of life which some judges have employed to reduce the allowance. I think it is improper to reduce an allowance on this basis. The contingencies of life may just as logically have a positive impact as a negative impact on a person's earnings. While other circumstances such as death or disability might have interceded to eliminate or limit his future earnings, circumstances might have indicated that his working life might have extended well beyond 65, that his earnings might have been much higher than that projected by me or, in this day and age, that he might have won a lottery. It seems to me that the 'vagaries' of human life cannot be logically applied negatively in the assessment of general damages and should be ignored." The position was, perhaps, incorrectly stated by me. It is not so much a matter of ignoring the contingencies as of giving proper weight to them and recognizing that they may have a negative or a positive effect on the figure being adjusted. How the figure is to be adjusted obviously turns on the facts of a case.

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