DAMAGES FOR LOSS OF A FATHER: DAMAGES FOR LOSS OF “INTANGIBLE BENEFIT” AWARDED

In  CC v TD [2018] EWHC 1240 (QB) His Honour Judge Freedman (sitting as a High Court judge) found that it was appropriate for the court to award damages for loss of intangible benefit when children had suffered the loss of a father.

THE CASE

The deceased was killed in a road traffic accident. At trial the judge found:

  1. There was no contributory negligence on the part of the deceased.
  2. The husband was going through a divorce at the time he was killed. There was no realistic prospect of reconciliation. (This aspect of the case is considered in detail in Civil Litigation Brief
  3. The judge then went on to consider the claim on behalf of the children. In particular whether an award for loss of intangible benefits could be made.

 

THE CLAIM FOR LOSS OF INTANGIBLE BENEFIT

There has been a discussion in various cases about whether a claim can be made for loss of intangible benefit when a partner or spouse dies.  The judge held that the case law relating to loss of a partner/spouse did not apply in these circumstances and there was clear authority for the awarding of damages for loss of intangible benefits to children when a parent had died.

THE JUDGMENT ON THIS ISSUE

  1. There is, however, a dispute as to whether the Deceased’s children should be entitled to an award for the loss of intangible benefits. The defendant seeks to rely upon the decision of Garnham J in Mosson v Espousal (London) Ltd [2015] EWHC 53 (QB). That was a claim brought by a widow arising out of the death of her husband due to mesothelioma. There was a claim for loss of intangible benefits on behalf of the widow, which was put in this way: “additional value and convenience in having someone who is willing and able to provide these services out of love and affection rather than bringing in outside help and contractors“. It was argued that it was not a valid head of claim. Garnham J so found, on the basis that he had already made an award in respect of the services the deceased would have provided his family had he not contracted mesothelioma; and, further, that what in effect she was seeking was financial compensation for the inconvenience of having to pay someone to do what her husband would have done voluntarily.
  2. In my judgment, a claim for loss of intangible benefits on behalf of the children falls into an entirely different category and is to be distinguished from the type of claim made in Mosson. In Beesley v New Century Group Ltd [2008] EWHC 3033 (QB), Hamblen J (as he then was) reviewed the authorities, including Regan v Williamson [1976] 1 WLR R305 and Hay v Hughes [1975] QB 790, and concluded that in certain circumstances a separate award can and should be made for loss of intangible benefits, albeit at a modest level. Similar reasoning appears to have been adopted in the case of Hayes v South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust [2015] EWHC 18 (QB) where the sum of £15,000 for loss of intangible benefits from a father was awarded in respect of three boys, albeit that this appears to have been subject to agreement.
  3. At all events, I am satisfied that the line of cases starting with Hay in 1975 permit the Court to make an award for loss of intangible benefits where children have been denied the benefit of love and affection which their father would otherwise have bestowed upon them. Experience suggests that such awards are commonplace. In my judgment, a sum of £5,000 for each child is appropriate, making a total of £15,000.
  4. As to the claim for additional sums to reflect gifts which the Deceased might have made to the children, and any contributions to weddings, these seem to me to be too speculative and remote. Accordingly, I do not make a further, additional award.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: