More Supreme Court success for 12KBW

The Supreme Court has this morning handed down judgment in the case of Knauer (Widower and Administrator of the Estate of Sally Ann Knauer) (Appellant) v Ministry of Justice (Respondent) [2016] UKSC 9.

Frank Burton QC, Harry Steinberg QC and Niall Maclean of 12KBW were instructed by Charles Lucas and Marshall to represent Mr Knauer in the Supreme Court.

Issue

The appropriate date for the assessment of multipliers in claims for future loss under the Fatal Accidents Act 1976; whether the appropriate date is the date of death or the date of trial?

Facts

Between 1997 and 2007, Sally Knauer was employed as an administrator by Guy’s Marsh Prison in Dorset. During this employment she was exposed to asbestos and was diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma in March 2009. She died on 28 August 2009 at the age of 46, leaving behind her widower (the appellant) and three sons aged 16, 20 and 22. The appellant brought a claim against the respondent seeking damages under various heads. The respondent admitted liability and, on 19 December 2013, Master Eastman gave judgment by consent for damages to be assessed. Before Bean J, the appellant argued, inter alia, that in determining the damages to be awarded for income and services dependency under the Fatal Accidents Act 1976, the multiplier for future loss should be assessed as at the date of trial rather than the date of death. This was rejected by Bean J [2014] EWHC 2553 (QB) who, nonetheless, gave permission to apply directly to the Supreme Court for permission to appeal on this issue.

The leapfrog appeal was heard on 28 January 2016 by a panel of 7 Justices: Lord Neuberger, Lady Hale, Lord Mance, Lord Clarke, Lord Reed, Lord Toulson and Lord Hodge.

Judgment

Following the hearing the Supreme Court handed down judgment (on 24 February 2016) in which they unanimously allowed Mr Knauer’s appeal. Lord Neuberger and Lady Hale gave a joint judgment, with which the other Justices agreed. They held that calculating damages for loss of dependency from the date of death, rather than the date of trial, means that the claimant suffers a discount for early receipt of the money when in fact that money will not be received until after trial. This discount results in under-compensation in most cases.

A full analysis of the judgment will follow.

The video footage from this hearing 

Supreme Court Judgement

Supreme Court Press Summary