29 October, 2015
The Thirteenth Edition of the Judicial College Guidelines has been published. The JC Guidelines are usually the first port of call when assessing general damages in personal injury claims.
Brian Langstaff provides the introduction to the guidelines, he comments on a number of noteworthy changes. The figures in the new edition recognise the 3.4% general increase in RPI over the previous 2 years. Chapter 3 has been re-labelled to include head as well as brain injuries, and there has been an adjustment to the lowest categories of neck injury.
Also, following the Court of Appeal decision in Kadir v Mistry and ors  EWCA 1177 there is now a separate guideline for mental anguish where it consists of the fear of impending death, or reduction in the expectation of life.
Looking at neck and back injuries where recovery is made within a few weeks or a few months the top of the bracket is now £1860 which represents a comparatively dramatic 20% increase. Consequently, the start of the bracket for such injuries lasting 3 months to 1 year has also been subject to a 20% increase.
Similarly, simple leg fractures and soft tissue injuries are now stated to be worth up to £9000, a 34% increase.
It's not all bad news, in chapter 7, the figure for a moderate hand injury has been reduced by just over 10% to £4100 and the bottom of the bracket now includes permanent but non-intrusive symptoms.
A thorough review of the guidelines is planned over the next two years, including whether the rate of increase should reflect the RPI or some other form of index, such as the Consumer Prices Index. Also, they intend to consider whether it is possible to eliminate gender from the principles of compensating scarring as well as considering whether to accommodate "injury to feelings" awards made in discrimination cases.