Accidents abroad and applicable law – recent Court of Appeal decision

Just over a year ago, the High Court delivered its decision in Pickard and Marshall v Generali and others. The case involved a road traffic accident in France in which two English residents, Marshall and Pickard, were injured (Mr Marshall died from his injuries) in a collision caused by an uninsured French driver colliding with Mr Pickard’s stationary car (insured with RSA) and forcing it against another French vehicle (insured with Generali). The question of the applicable law was appealed and a decision on the point was given on 19 January 2017.

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Fatal accidents and statutory categories of claimants

The right to claim damages for loss of financial dependency and for statutory bereavement damages are set out separately in the Fatal Accidents Act 1976. Only those who fall within the categories listed in the Act are eligible. The courts have consistently refused to widen these statutory categories, most recently in Smith v Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, which was decided on 8 September 2016.

It is difficult now to see any change here without statutory intervention. That looks quite unlikely, given that the Negligence and Damages Bill – a private member’s Bill in the 2015/16 Parliament that sought to effect changes to the law on fatal claims- simply lapsed without Government support.

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State Opening of Parliament this Wednesday

The Queen’s Speech takes place on 18 May 2016. A number of recent Parliamentary briefing papers have covered topics likely to be the subject of Bills that might be announced by Her Majesty. Debate on the Speech will take precedence in both Houses for several days after 18 May. A key point of interest for general insurers will be whether the Speech refers to legislation to implement reforms to injury claims announced in the 2015 Autumn Statement.

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