Bereavement Damages Update

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24 March, 2020

Increase in Bereavement Award

From 1st May 2020, Bereavement damages will be increased from £12,980 to £15,120. The Damages for Bereavement (Variation of Sum) (England and Wales) Order 2020 was laid before Parliament on 19th March 2020.The increase will apply to causes of action in England and Wales which accrue on or after 1st May 2020. A copy of the Order can be found here.

The Fatal Accidents Act 1976 (Remedial) Order 2020 and "Cohabiting partners"

The Fatal Accidents Act 1976 (Remedial) Order 2020 seeks to amend section 1A of the Fatal Accidents Act 1976 (FAA) to allow an award of bereavement damages to "cohabiting partners" to implement the judgment of the Court of Appeal in the case of Smith v Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust & ors ([2017] EWCA Civ 1916) and to remove the unlawful discrimination in section 1A of the FAA identified by the Court of Appeal.

A "cohabiting partner" means any person who

  • was living with the deceased in the same household immediately before the date of the death; and
  • had been living with the deceased in the same household for at least two years before that date; and
  • was living during the whole of that period as the wife or husband or civil partner of the deceased.

It is not clear when The Fatal Accidents Act 1976 (Remedial) Order 2020 will come into force. However, it will only apply to causes of action which accrue on or after the day on which this Order comes into force.

Forbes comment

Despite calls for the bereavement damages scheme to be overhauled, the Government has confirmed in the recently published 'Government Response to the twenty-first report from the Joint Committee on Human Rights, Session 2017-19: Proposal for a draft Fatal Accidents Act 1976 (Remedial) Order 2019', that it has no plans for wider consultation on the bereavement damages regime or FAA noting that "it does not accept that the existing provisions on bereavement damages are discriminatory". The government stresses in the report that "bereavement damages are and were only ever intended to be a token payment payable to a limited group of people".

Source: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/865615/govt-response-21st-jchr-report.PDF

For more information contact Sarah Wilkinson in our Insurance department via email or phone on 01254 662831. Alternatively send any question through to Forbes Solicitors via our online Contact Form.

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