A predictable revolution: Knauer v Ministry of Defence in the Supreme Court

News

24/02/2016

The Supreme Court has today handed down its judgment [2016] UKSC 9 in the ‘leapfrog’ appeal to it from the decision of Bean J in Knauer v Ministry of Defence [2014] EWHC 2553 (QB).

Bean J’s decision is available on BAILII at http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/QB/2014/2553.html and the Supreme Court’s decision is at http://www.bailii.org/uk/cases/UKSC/2016/9.html.

Permission for the ‘leapfrog’ appeal was given to enable the Supreme Court to consider a frontal challenge to the rules set out in Cookson v Knowles [1979] AC 556 and Graham v Dodds [1983] 1 WLR 808 for the calculation of multipliers in fatal cases.  Those cases established that the multiplier was to be selected as arising at the date of death, with the number of years between death and trial being deducted from the multiplier to give the multiplier applicable to the claims for future dependency.

Having considered the extensive criticism of this rule over the last three decades by judges, the Ogden Tables working party and the Law Commission, a unanimous 7-judge Supreme Court had no hesitation in applying the Practice Statement (Judicial Precedent) [1966] 1 WLR 1234 and departing from the previous decisions of the House of Lords.  Cookson and Graham had been decided in an era when the selection of multipliers was governed by judicial guesswork, sometimes educated and sometimes not, rather than the actuarial approach of the Ogden Tables.

Henceforth, multipliers are calculated from the date of trial, as with non-fatal cases, rather than the date of death.  This will result in a small rise in the value of most, if not all dependency claims.

The difference between the old and new approaches can be shown by an example.  The case concerns a married male without dependent children who is killed on his 60th birthday.  He would have worked to the age of 70, earning £50,000 net per annum, with his wife earning £30,000 net per annum and retiring at the same time (I have assumed that these figures reflect the table A to D discounts for simplicity).  On retirement, he would receive a pension of £20,000 net per annum, compared with hers of £15,000 net per annum.  He had a slightly reduced life expectancy of 20 years due to medical conditions unrelated to his death.  The wife has a normal life expectancy and would have been expected to outlive him.  The assessment of damages takes place on what would have been his 65th birthday.

 

OLD APPROACH

(1) Pre-trial financial dependency

Multiplicand: ((50,000 + 30,000) x 0.75) – 30,000 = 30,000

Years to trial: 5

Total: 30,000 x 5 = £150,000

(2) Post-trial financial dependency: to retirement

Multiplicand: 30,000

Multiplier for loss of earnings to age 70 (table 11) from age 60: 8.45

Adjusted multiplier with years to trial deducted: 8.45 – 5 = 3.45

Total: 30,000 x 3.45 = £103,500

(3) Post-trial financial dependency: retirement to projected death

Multiplicand: ((20,000 + 15,000) x 0.75) – 15,000 = £11,250

Multiplier for 20 years life expectancy at date of death (table 28): 15.78

Adjusted multiplier with years to trial and pre-retirement multiplier deducted: 15.78 – 5 – 3.45 = 7.33

Total: 11,250 x 7.33 = £82,462.50

GRAND TOTAL: 150,000 + 103,500 + 82,462.50 = £335,962.50

 

NEW APPROACH

(1) Pre-trial financial dependency

Multiplicand: £30,000

Years to trial: 5

Total: 30,000 x 5 = £150,000

(2) Post-trial financial dependency: to retirement

Multiplicand: £30,000

Multiplier for loss of earnings to age 70 (table 11) from age 65: 4.54

Table E factor: 0.97

Final multiplier: 4.54 x 0.97 = 4.40

Total: 30,000 x 4.40 = £132,000

(3) Post-trial financial dependency: retirement to projected death

Multiplicand: £11,250

Multiplier for 15 years life expectancy at date of death (table 28): 12.54

Table F factor: 0.94

Final multiplier: (12.54 – 4.40) x 0.94 = 7.65

Total: 11,250 x 7.65 = £86,080.50

GRAND TOTAL: 150,000 + 132,000 + 86,080.50 = £368,080.50

Latest News & Events

The Dekagram: 17th June 2024

This week’s Dekagram features a case involving an optimistic English claimant seeking to have his claim against an English defendant determined by the Spanish courts. It will be of interest to anyone advising on or litigating claims with a foreign element arising out of consumer…

Personal Injury Briefing: June 2024

Welcome to the latest edition of the Deka Personal Injury team briefing. In this edition we will be focusing on ‘Witness Statements’ and ‘Fundamental Dishonesty and Indemnity Costs.’ Laura Hibberd provides some very helpful guidance through a series of ‘cautionary tales.’  It may be said…

The Contaminated Blood Scandal: Part 1 – the background

In the 1970’s the NHS had an almost insatiable need for blood. New treatments needed large quantities of “hema” and a scientific discovery gave a group of sick individuals a reprieve (or so they thought) from their suffering.   Haemophiliacs lack a specific protein, factor…

Subscribe to our mailing list

Deka Chambers: 5 Norwich Street, London EC4A 1DR

© Deka Chambers 2024

Search

Portfolio Builder

Select the expertise that you would like to download or add to the portfolio

Download    Add to portfolio   
Portfolio
Title Type CV Email

Remove All

Download


Click here to share this shortlist.
(It will expire after 30 days.)