THE OTHER AMENDMENT TO THE FATAL ACCIDENTS ACT 1976: COHABITEES MAY HAVE TO SHARE BEREAVEMENT AWARD WITH PARENTS: SPOUSES MAY HAVE SHARE PAYMENT WITH COHABITEES

There is another amendment made to the Fatal Accidents  Act 1976 in relation to the people entitled to receive a bereavement award. This is quite technical, but could be important in a very limited class of cases. The amendment is made  by the  Fatal Accidents Act 1976 (Remedial) Order 2020 comes into force, I am told, on the 6th October 2020.  It only applies to deaths on or after that date.

THE REMEDIAL ORDER

The order makes a change to the wording in Section 1A of the Act.

In subsection (4)—
(a) for “this section” substitute “subsection (2)(a) and (aa), or under subsection (2)(b),”; and
(b) for “both the parents of the deceased” substitute “more than one person”.

THE OLD SECTION 4

“Where there is a claim for damages under this section for the benefit of both the parents of the deceased, the sum awarded shall be divided equally between them (subject to any deduction falling to be made in respect of costs not recovered from the defendant).”

THE NEW SECTION 4

“Where there is a claim for damages under this section for the benefit of more than one person, the sum awarded shall be divided equally between them (subject to any deduction falling to be made in respect of costs not recovered from the defendant).”

THE REASON FOR THE CHANGE

There are two circumstances:

  1. Someone who has not divorced may have both an eligible husband, wife or civil partner and a cohabitee who is entitled.

2. Parents, in very limited circumstances. The parents are only entitled to a bereavement award if the child is under the age of 18 and unmarried.   There is now the possibility that someone could have been cohabiting with someone prior to their death and the cohabitee is entitled to the bereavement award.  In these circumstances this would have to be divided equally between the cohabitee and the parents.

There will be a very limited number of cases where someone can show that they have been cohabiting for two years or more and are under the age of 18 when they died.

THE GUIDANCE NOTES

This is explained in the guidance notes.

“Article 2(4) amends section 1A(4) of the Act to provide that, where more than one person is
entitled to an award of bereavement damages, the award must be shared equally between them.
Previously this provision applied only where both parents may be entitled to an award under
section 1A(2)(b), because there was no possibility of an award being payable to more than one
person under section 1A(2)(a) or an award being payable under both section 1A(2)(a) and (2)(b).

A possibility now exists for an award to be payable to more than one person under subsection
(2)(a) and (2) (aa) as a result of the amendments made by article 2(2) and (3), and the amendment
made by article 2(4) caters for that possibility.”

FATAL ACCIDENT DAMAGES: A REMINDER: SERIES OF WEBINARS COMING UP

Hilary Wetherall and I are giving a series of webinars on fatal accidents: Fatal Accidents 2020.

FATAL ACCIDENTS: SEEING THE CLIENT FOR THE FIRST TIME, PREPARING THE CLIENT FOR THE INQUEST AND ATTENDING THE INQUEST (16th October 2020)

This webinar, presented by Hilary,  will take you through the essential first meeting with the client, discussion and advice about funding and retainers and also preparing for an attending an inquest.

  • How to prepare for the first meeting
  • What you need to know
  • Conducting the first meeting
  • Advising on retainers and funding
  • Advising on coronial law and the inquest, preparing for and attending an inquest.

Booking details are available here. 

UNDERSTANDING THE LAW RELATING TO FATAL ACCIDENTS (28th OCTOBER 2020)

This webinar, presented by Gordon Exall, takes you through the essential elements you have to consider before you can advise whether a claim for fatal accident damages can be brought.

  • The basic principles of fatal claims
  • When can a fatal accident claim be brought?
  • Who is eligible to bring a claim?
  • Who is a dependant?
  • The type of financial dependency that entitles a party to claim
  • The difference between a Fatal Accident Act claim and a claim on behalf of the estate.

Booking details are available here. 

PREPARING A SCHEDULE IN A FATAL CLAIM (30th OCTOBER 2020)

This webinar looks at the essential elements of a claim for damages in fatal accident litigation, considering all the information necessary to draft a credible schedule in support.

 

  • Basic principles of the dependency calculation.
  • Claims for financial dependency.
  • Loss of a carer – the growing importance of claims for non-financial dependency.
  • Multipliers and periods of loss in fatal cases.
  • Bereavement damages.
  • Claiming injuries and losses of the deceased person prior to death.
  • Matters that are disregarded – the significance of Section 4 of the Fatal Accidents Act.

Booking details are available here.

ENSURING EVERYTHING GOES RIGHT – AVOIDING THE PITFALLS OF FATAL ACCIDENT LITIGATION (6th November 2020)

This webinar looks at the potential problem areas of fatal accident litigation and considers how best to avoid them

  • Limitation in fatal cases
  • Matters that can bar a fatal accident claim
  • Procedural matters on the issue of proceedings
  • Witness statements and evidence in fatal cases
  • Examples of professional negligence claims in fatal cases and how to avoid those pitfalls

Booking details are available here. 

FATAL ACCIDENTS: TAKING CARE OF THE CLIENT AND TAKING CARE OF YOURSELVES (11th NOVEMBER 2020)

This webinar, presented by Hilary, looks at practical ways in which practitioners can avoid, or mitigate trauma to themselves when dealing with bereaved clients.

It also looks at the practical steps that lawyers can take to understand the bereaved client and ensure that they are able to participate in the litigation process with the minimum amount of disruption.

Booking details are available here.