Duhaime's Law Dictionary


Addis v Gramophone, the Rule in Definition:

A proposal of law that pain and suffering is not compensable for breach of contract.

Related Terms: Pain and Suffering

Formally known as the Rule in Addis v Gramophone. A proposed restrictive approach to the claim and award of damages for mental stress arising out of breach of contract. The "rule" or principle of law is named after a 1909 English case which most clearly established it - that entire case, Addis v Gromophone Co. Ltd., [1909] AC 488, is available online by clicking here.

Law professors Cassels and Addin-Tettey state that, "compensation for intangible injuries such as hurt feelings and emotional distress was not available for breach of contract" basing the statement of law on this:

"The leading case of Addis v Gramophone Co. stood for the stiff-upper-lip theory of civil wrongs - that compensation in contract is for financial losses only, and that in commercial relationships (such as the employment relationship), people disappointed or distressed by breaches of contract had simply to bear the harm with whatever fortitude they could muster."

The authors also noted that some exceptions have developed since the 1909 case after which the Rule in Addis v Gramophone is named, one being the now-rare breach of marriage cases.

In a 2008 case (Honda v Keays), Justice Bastarache of the Supreme Court of Canada suggested this of the Rule in Addis v Gramophone:

"The general rule, which stems from the British case of Addis v. Gramophone Co., is that damages allocated in such actions are confined to the loss suffered as a result of the employer’s failure to give proper notice and that no damages are available to the employee for the actual loss of his or her job and/or pain and distress that may have been suffered as a consequence of being terminated."

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