GENERAL AND SPECIAL DAMAGES-DISTINCTION BETWEEN A CLAIM FOR GENERAL OR SPECIAL DAMAGES
“There is a distinction between “general” and “special” damages. “General damages” are such, as the law will presume to be the direct, natural or probable consequence of the act complained of. Whereas, “special damages” are such, as the law will not infer from the nature of the act. They are exceptional in their character, and must be claimed specially and proved strictly-McGregor on Damages, 13th Ed.
In other words, when it comes to special damages, all the losses claimed on every item must have crystalized in terms and value before the trial – seeShodipo & Co. Ltd. V. Daily Times (1972) All NLR 842.As Elias, CJN, noted in Shodipo & Co. Ltd. V. Daily Times (supra), the difference between a claim for special or general damages is that:
Where one is claiming special damage, the circumstances are such that one is able to put one’s finger on a particular item of loss and say, 7 can prove that I lost so much there, so much there, and so much there’, whereas a claim for general damages means this: ‘We cannot prove particular items, but we can prove beyond all possible doubt that there has been pecuniary loss’. Once that has been proved, I cannot see any difference in principle between special damage and general damage. Thus, special damages are such damages suffered by a Plaintiff that is “quantifiable in money’s worth” – seeCalabar East C.T. & C. S. Ltd. V. Ikot (1999) 14 NWLR (Pt. 638) 225 SC and Neka B.B.B. Man. Co. Ltd. V. ACB (2004) 2 NWLR (Pt. 858) 521, wherein Pats-Acholunu, JSC, said:
A damage is special in the sense that it is easily discernible and quantified. It should not rest on a puerile conception or notion, which would give rise to speculation, approximation or estimate or such like fraction.”
PER A. A. AUGIE, J.S.C. in the case of LUKE NWANEWU ONYIORAH V BENEDICT C. ONYIORAH & ANOR LERSC.254/2008