Complete Clarity Solicitors


Damages for bereavement a ‘postcode lottery’

Discrepancies exist in how damages for bereavement are awarded across the UK, with bereaved people north of the border being treated more fairly than those in England and Wales when claiming damages for their loss, according to a recent poll.

The survey, which was commissioned by the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL), found that 80% of respondents considered the Scottish system for bereavement damages to be fairer, prompting calls for the law in the rest of the UK to be reviewed.

“For years we have been calling for the law to be changed in this area, and this new survey has shown just how far out of step with public opinion the system for awarding bereavement damages really is,” said Matthew Stockwell, president of APIL.

“Everyone knows, of course, that nothing can ever replace a loved one who has died,” he added. “But it’s important to remember that we are talking here about bereavement caused by the negligence of another party. The fact that the death is needless can only increase the sense of pain and loss.”

APIL points out that currently in England and Wales, bereavement damages amount to a fixed sum of £12,980, which is paid by those who have caused the death. The vast majority of those surveyed think the fixed sum is not high enough, with 57% saying a figure of more than £100,000 would be appropriate.

In Scotland, cases are taken on their merits, damages are generally higher, and the law is much more flexible about who can receive them.

In England and Wales, for example, bereavement damages are currently only available to the spouse or civil partner of the deceased; the parents of an unmarried legitimate minor or the mother of an unmarried illegitimate minor.

Survey respondents suggested that list be extended to include, for example, the parents of a child who is killed, regardless of the child’s age; children (including adopted children) of the person killed, regardless of the child’s age; the co-habitee of the person killed, and the fiancé of the person killed.

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