APIL’s view of the law on fatal accidents

APIL’s reform objectives were underlined earlier in the week by its new president, Gordon Dalyell of Digby Brown, in his speech to its annual conference. What he said on fatal accident law and compensation follows and is unlikely to come as a surprise.

“Bereavement damages remains a very important campaign for us. We will not be deterred from arguing that the law in relation to providing fair recompense to relatives of people tragically killed in an accident, or through exposure to dangerous substances such as asbestos, ought to be the same across the whole of the United Kingdom.

“The recent increase in the statutory amount in Northern Ireland to £15,100, is of course to be acknowledged, and is now over £2,000 higher than the amount in England and Wales. However why does it still continue to be the case that it is cheaper to kill someone in Belfast, or here in Birmingham, than in Glasgow or Aberdeen. The Scottish system of individual close family members, and that includes adult children, siblings, grandparents and grandchildren, being able to pursue their own individual claims with each claim being valued on its own merits, is one which ought to be adopted across the whole of the UK.”

These ideas are, of course, wider than the limited rectification of bereavement damages in England & Wales proposed by the Ministry of Justice last week and reported in our blog of 14 May 2019.

Should you wish to read the full text of the speech it’s available here: https://www.apil.org.uk/files/apil-president-speech-2019.pdf Among other remarks are indications (at page nine) that APIL will continue to campaign for:

  1. establishing an EL equivalent of the MIB
  2. extending of provisions of the Mesothelioma Act 2014 to other asbestos-related conditions, and
  3. retaining the benefits of European regimes on health & safety and motor insurance.

In broad terms, it seems likely that a good deal of the last of these will happen in any event as and when the UK leaves the EU. The first is almost a point of principle rather than an evidence-based argument and I have not seen data suggesting that there is a systemic and national problem of significant numbers of people injured at work being with a remedy for the sole reason that their employer did not have cover. There is probably some doubt whether the second, as set out, is technically possible because the purposes of the 2014 Act (in its short title) are expressly limited to mesothelioma. That’s not to say, however, that new legislation relating to other conditions could not be introduced if (and that could be quite a big ‘if’) any subsequent administration was minded to do so.


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Written by Alistair Kinley, director of policy and government affairs at BLM
alistair.kinley@blmlaw.com

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