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Canadian Pain-and-Suffering Caps

Walter is exactly right -- Canadian pain and suffering awards are capped. They have been capped for over 20 years.

This is a product of two phenomena:

1. Canada has a unitary court system: all judges of significance are named by the federal government (even if they are in provincial courts), and all provincial court decisions may be appealed to the Canadian Supreme Court.

2. There are no juries, for all intents and purposes, in Canadian tort trials.

As a result of these two phenomena, judges, not juries, set tort damage awards. Appeals courts may revise these damage awards for uniformity. In the 1970's, Canada's Supreme Court peremptorily announced that it would no longer tolerate huge differences in non-economic damages awards (aka "pain and suffering") from one province to the next, and from one judge to the next. It announced that it would reduce all non-economic damage awards to $100,000 CDN (since adjusted for inflation, of course).

Our jury system, and our dual court system, make it impossible to replicate the Canadian experience.

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Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy

Manhattan Institute


Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.