Restitutio ad integrum
Restitutio ad integrum is a Latin term which means restoration to original condition. It is one of the primary guiding principles behind the awarding of damages in common law negligence claims. The general rule, as the principle implies, is that the amount of compensation awarded should put the successful plaintiff in the position he or she would have been had the tortious action not been committed. Thus the plaintiff should clearly be awarded damages for direct expenses such as medical bills and property repairs and the loss of future earnings attributable to the injury (which often involves difficult speculation about the future career and promotion prospects).
Although monetary compensation cannot be directly equated with physical deprivation it is generally accepted that compensation should also be awarded for loss of amenities, reflecting the decrease in expected standard of living due to any injury suffered and pain and suffering. Damages awards in these categories are justified by the restitutio principle as monetary compensation provides the most practicable way of redressing the deprivation caused by physical injury.
The expression restitutio in integrum is also used in patent law, namely in the European Patent Convention (EPC), and refers to a means of redress available to an applicant or patentee who has failed to meet a time limit in spite of exercising "all due care required by the circumstances" (Article 122 EPC). If the request for restitutio in integrum is accepted, the applicant or patentee is re-established in its rights, as if the time limit had been duly met.
According to decision G 1/86 of the Enlarged Board of Appeal of the European Patent Office, other parties such as opponents are not barred from the restitutio in integrum by principle. For instance, if an opponent fails to file the statement of grounds for appeal in spite of all due care, after having duly filed the notice of appeal, restitutio remedies will be available to him or her.
- Graham v. Egan 15 La. Ann. 97, 98 (1860). In considering whether to give the mortgagor money damages or restore the property itself, the court said in regard to restitution: "He can restore the property itself, and place the [mortgagor] in the same condition he would have occupied if he had not been harassed with an unfounded demand. This is precisely what is meant by the restitution in integrum. If there be ground for restitution at all, there is the same ground for a complete restitution, a restitution in integrum."
- Emile Erlanger v The New Sombrero Phosphate Company (1877–78) L.R. 3 App. Cas. 1218
- Livingstone v Rawyards Coal Co (1880) 5 App Cas 25,39, per Lord Blackburn, compensation should be "that sum of money which will put the party who has been injured in the same position as he would have been if he had not sustained the wrong for which he is now getting his compensation or reparation."