Punitive Damages. The Civil Remedy in American Law, Lessons and Caveats for Continental Europe
PhD student: Mrs Dr R.C. Meurkens
Promotors: Prof T. Hartlief, Prof G.E. van Maanen
Duration: 1/9/2008 - 31/8/2012
PhD defence: Maastricht, 19/12/2014
The punitive damages doctrine, traditionally a common law doctrine that originates in England and the United States, is customary in common law countries but until now it is alien to continental European legal systems. Policymakers and legal scholars in Europe, however, increasingly exchange ideas about the potential advantages of the civil sanction. The European attention for punitive damages primarily results from changing policy views, to be precise the increased interest in private enforcement of several legal fields, on both the European Union and national level, and in introducing more powerful civil sanctions to improve the enforcement of tort law standards and to deal with situations of serious wrongdoing. The main objective of this research is to increase the understanding of the civil sanction as such, because only a correct knowledge of the facts relating to the sanction can create the possibility to participate in the European punitive damages debate in a fair manner. The American experience with punitive damages results in some important lessons and caveats that should be kept in mind by participants in the European debate, as well as a number of recommendations on the possible use of this civil remedy in continental Europe.