Compensation principles: UKSC

A unanimous decision yesterday of the United Kingdom Supreme Court, Knauer v Ministry of Justice [2016] UKSC 9,   focused on a damages assessment question in a dependency case:

… whether the current approach to assessing the financial losses suffered by the dependant of a person who is wrongfully killed properly reflects the fundamental principle of full compensation, and if it does not whether we should depart from previous decisions of the House of Lords.

In Australia many damages assessment issues and discount rates are now subject to statutory provisions. However in circumstances where they are not, arguments are sometimes put that the courts should look to other statutory formulas for guidance. In that context it is interesting to note the comment at [25]:

The present claimant should not be deprived of the compensation to which on ordinary principles he would be entitled because some other claimants, as a result of understandable legislative choices made by Parliament, receive more than they would receive on those ordinary principles. It would be wrong to preserve what is now known to be a flawed practice affecting most claimants in order to counteract those choices.


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