Bereavement Damages: a Dis-United Kingdom

This is the title of a report published yesterday by APIL which examines the different approaches to bereavement damages across the UK, an issue we had covered in detail last March in this post.

As is well-known, the use of statutory amounts of damages and closed classes of eligible claimants in England & Wales and in Northern Ireland contrasts with a broader, subjective approach in Scotland where higher awards are often made to members of a deceased’s extended family. It is no surprise that the report calls for some levelling up of the laws, but what is new is the level of public support it purports to show for change, with around 70% of some 2,000 respondents to YouGov surveys regarding the statutory levels as too low and supporting a more subjective approach.

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Limitation as a matter for the applicable law: latest decision

In cross-border litigation, the Rome II Regulation – which still applies in the UK, although now as “retained EU law” – provides that the applicable law shall govern matters such as liability and quantum as well as “the manner in which an obligation may be extinguished and rules of prescription and limitation, including rules relating to the commencement, interruption and suspension of a period of prescription or limitation” (article 15(h) of the Regulation).

How this works where the limitation process or period also includes requirements about service – which is generally regarded as procedural and something for the law of the forum (ie the court with jurisdiction) rather than for the substantive applicable law – was examined recently in Johnson v Berentzen, a road traffic claim pursued in England by an English resident claimant against a German resident defendant and relating to an accident in Scotland.

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Self-driving lane-keeping systems to go live on UK roads

Following a consultation last year on authorising ALKS – Automated Lane Keeping Systems – the DfT today announced that these in-car systems will be authorised for road use by the end of 2021. ALKS is designed for ‘driverless’ motorway journeys at moderate speed and despite its ‘A’ standing for Automated, there is genuine debate over whether the technology satisfies the stringent definition of “a vehicle driving itself” as set out in the Automated & Electric Vehicles Act (AEVA) 2018 which came into force just last week (21 April).

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