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Balto. Bridge Co. v. U. Rwys. E. Co., 125 Md. 208, at p. 214 et seq.

Title
Balto. Bridge Co. v. U. Rwys. E. Co., 125 Md. 208, at p. 214 et seq.
Content
214

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From the authorities given above it may be stated as a settled rule of law, that where the parties, at or before the time of the execution of the contract, agree upon and name a sum therein to be paid as liquidated damages, in lieu of anticipated damages which are in their nature uncertain and incapable of exact ascertainment, that the amount so named in the agreement will be regarded as liquidated damages and not as a penalty, unless the amount so agreed upon and 215 inserted in the agreement be grossly excessive and out of all proportion to the damages that might reasonably have been expected to result from such breach of the contract. And whether it is excessive or whether the damages are incapable of exact ascertainment should be determined from the subject-matter of the contract considered in the light of all the surrounding facts and circumstances connected therewith and known to the parties at the time of its execution. That these questions should be considered and determined from the contract itself, its subject-matter and the surrounding facts and circumstances connected therewith with which the parties are confronted at the time of its execution, is made necessary in order to ascertain the intention of the parties, which is one of the essential factors in deciding whether the stipulation is for liquidated damages or is a penalty. It may afterwards be disclosed that the damages actually sustained are more or less than those anticipated at the time of the execution of the contract. If more, this fact would not characterize or stamp the stipulation as a penalty unless it was so exorbitant as to clearly show that such amount was not arrived at in a bona fide effort, made at or before the execution of the contract, to estimate the damages that might have been reasonably expected to result from a breach of it, and that it was named as a penalty for such breach. And on the other hand, if the amount stipulated was found to be inadequate, a greater amount could not be recovered for such breach, because of the agreement between the parties that the amount so named should be in lieu of the damages resulting therefrom.
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Referring Principles
Trans-Lex Principle: VI.4 - Promise to pay in case of non-performance
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