Compensation Awards in Sexual Assault Cases – Introduction

In a 2010 article published in a lawyer’s newspaper, I wrote about a trend toward higher non-pecuniary awards in sexual abuse cases. See “Trend develops for higher sexual abuse non-pecuniary awards”, The Lawyer’s Weekly, February 2010.

“Non-pecuniary awards” are made by courts to compensate victims of sexual assault for the pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life they have experienced by reason of being sexually abused. This is a category of damages that is not capable of precise calculation (unlike, for example, an out-of-pocket expense incurred for therapy, or loss of income flowing from inability to work). Nonetheless, our legal system has recognized this category of damages to be an important one. Indeed, courts often include an “aggravated” component to reflect the added elements of betrayal of trust, intrusiveness, humiliation and degradation that so often form an integral part of sexual assault.

In my 2010 article, I described three landmark court decisions released in 2008 and 2009. From time to time, my blog will provide summaries, prepared by me or colleagues who work with me in the sexual abuse area, of noteworthy decisions to illustrate the compensation awards that are being made by courts and the factors that influence the awards they are making.

This is general information only, and is not intended as legal advice. If you have been sexually assaulted or sexually abused, you are encouraged to contact a lawyer for advice specific to your situation.

Elizabeth Grace heads the Toronto office sexual assault group, she is a partner at the Ontario law firm, Lerners LLP, and has specialized in sexual assault matters for almost two decades now. See her professional biography for more information about Elizabeth and her work in the area of civil liability for sexual abuse.

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