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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FAA remedial order nears commencement

In 2017 in Smith v Lancashire the Court of Appeal held that exclusion of a deceased’s co-habiting partner from entitlement to bereavement damages under s1A of the Fatal Accidents Act 1976 breached European Convention rights. That outcome placed the government under an obligation to amend the Act (detailed in this post back in February). This specific and limited change has just moved closer, with the necessary draft order being approved in the House of Lords last week and expected to take effect soon.

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Damages for bereavement: differing valuations across UK jurisdictions

The announcement yesterday (19 March 2020) of an inflationary increase in statutory bereavement damages in England & Wales once again brings approaches to valuing of this head of loss into focus. This piece looks at the differences across jurisdictions within the UK. It is worth emphasising that this is an entirely devolved topic for the UK’s constituent jurisdictions and that there is no evidence at all of any legislative moves towards harmonisation in this discrete area.

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