I am enthralled by the smallest claims (quantum of damages requested at the outset) that reach, and gets decided by, Commonwealth apex courts. I am NOT referring to the apex court's award of damages, particularly nominal damages, because the apex court might have shrunk it from the damages originally in the prayer for relief.

These private law cases claimed the teensiest quantum of damages adjusted for inflation in Canada, and England and Wales. Correct me if I missed cases with even teensier quantums!

England and Wales. £50 in ParkingEye Ltd v Beavis [2015] UKSC 67.

Mr Beavis left his car in the car park for longer than the permitted two hours of free parking and was subject to the charge—£85, reduced to £50 for prompt payment. He refused to pay this sum and was sued by the parking company, ParkingEye, for breach of the parking contract.

Robert Merkin, Poole's Textbook on Contract Law (2021 15th edition), page 595.

USA. $1 in Uzuegbunam v. Preczewski (2021).

The Supreme Court had to decide whether the request for nominal damages of $1 continued to keep the case in play.

In this relatively cabined context of constitutional rights, Uzuegbunam’s holding may have the practical effect of keeping otherwise moot cases alive where the plaintiff “tacks on a request for a dollar.”

Canada. $300 CAD in Attorney General (Ontario) v. Fatehi, 1984 CanLII 85 (SCC), [1984] 2 SCR 536

[P]rovince was able to recover $300 from a driver who damaged a roadway. This one is probably the most on point to your question.

$300 CAD in The Queen v. Savage [1983] 2 SCR 428, 1983 CanLII 32 (SCC).

DICKSON J. — The question is whether the sum of $300 received by Elizabeth Joan Savage from her employer, Excelsior Life Insurance Company ("Excelsior"), for successful completion of the Life Office Management Association series of examinations, is subject to income tax.

If you go back far enough and don't care about inflation, you can get down to $100. See Joyce v Hart [1877], 1 SCR 321.

Not exactly on point (not a damages case), but I also found Trial Lawyers Association of British Columbia v. British Columbia (Attorney General), 2014 SCC 59. There the court was asked to determine whether a court hearing fee (the fee paid to the court to schedule the trial) was constitutional. The hearing fee in the case that was appealed to SCC amounted to $3,600.

$5100 CAD in City of Vancouver v Ward 2010 SCC 27.

Justice Tyson awarded damages in the amount of $5000 for the strip search and $100 for the seizure of the vehicle pursuant to s 24(1) of the Canadian Charter. The B.C. Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court subsequently upheld this decision.

I stumbled upon Vancouver v Ward at footnote 7 on page 785, in Roderick Bagshaw's Tort Law (6 edn 2018).

See Att-Gen of Trinidad and Tobago v Ramanoop [2006] 1 AC 328, at [19]; James v Attorney General of Trinidad and Tobago [2010] UKSC 23, at [35]; Inniss v Attorney-General of Saint Christopher & Nevis [2008] UKPC 42, at [27]; Vancouver v Ward [2010] 2 SCR 28 [emphasis mine], at [25]–[29]; Taunoa v Attorney General [2007] NZSC 70, at [109], [255], [372].

1 Answer 1


In Robinson v The Balmain New Ferry Company Ltd [1910] AC 295, Barrister-at-Law Archibald Nugent Robertson "got £100 damages". Notice £ refers to Australian pounds (£A), not GBP.

See Some Observations on Robertson v Balmain New Ferry Co, or Google's Cache. I've quoted the relevant sentence.

The author is "J W Shaw QC, MLC, NSW Attorney-General to the Macquarie University Law Society on 17 May 1995 on the occasion of a dinner held to commemorate the ninetieth anniversary of the attempted ferry ride of Robertson v New Balmain Ferry Co Ltd."

In the action he got £100 damages, but the Ferry Co. went to the Full Court, where the verdict was set aside, and the costs came to more than thr penny exit fee.

I cannot find these sources online, but you can read the primary sources as cited by Mark Lunney's paper FEDERATION, FARE DODGING AND FALSE IMPRISONMENT – MR ROBERTSON’S EVENING OUT at footnote 4, page 1. Google cached it.

4 The description of the facts is distilled from a number of sources: the trial judge’s notes (manuscript version in the State Records Office of New South Wales, printed version in court file at the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council) and contemporary newspaper accounts from The Sydney Morning Herald, The Daily Telegraph, The Australian Star, and The Evening News (contemporaneous newspapers published in Sydney).


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