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Damages Lottery for Bereaved Families

Should bereavement damages be given an increase? Tilly Bailey & Irvine's legal advisers explain the current situation...

Personal Injury lawyers have recently asked the Government to act to increase damages for families of people who have been killed by negligence, bearing in mind there is a clear disparity between UK jurisdictions as to damages payable.

In England and Wales the statutory sum for bereavement damages is presently £12,980. It has been at this level for six years despite repeated calls from personal injury lawyers for an increase. Lack of action on the part of the Government has been highlighted, and brought into focus now as the statutory sum for Northern Ireland has now been increased.

In Northern Ireland, the Justice Minister committed in 2016 to increase the statutory amount every three years and Mark Ellis, Personal Injury Lawyer at Tilly Bailey & Irvine, points out: “the level in bereavement damages in England and Wales has been at its same level for six years and, in that time, it has been reviewed by Northern Ireland twice and now stands at £15,100.

“In Scotland, there is no set limit and indeed sums are calculated on a case-by-case basis. There is a difference as to how people are treated depending on which jurisdiction they are in when they die and that difference is getting bigger between England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland. The whole law on bereavement damages needs overhauling and needs to be brought up to date.”

APIL, the Association for Personal Injury Lawyers of which Mark is a Senior Litigator, commissioned a consumer research review in 2013, and more than half of the 2,000 people surveyed thought bereavement damages should be more than £100,000.

Three quarters of those asked also wanted levels to be set on a case-by-case basis.

This shows the levels in the UK are presently falling well below those of individuals in Northern Ireland and Scotland, and this discrepancy needs to be resolved.

Tilly Bailey & Irvine is a full-service law firm with offices across the North East. Find out more about its Personal Injury solicitors and lawyers here.