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Fatally flawed

Dr Jock Mackenzie argues for a change to bereavement awards

27 September 2002

The Lord Chancellor recently raised the amount of damages recoverable by a claimant for bereavement under the Fatal Accidents Act 1976 from £7,500 to £10,000 for deaths on or after 1 April 2002 (Bereavement (Variation of Sum) (England and Wales) Order 2002 (SI no 644)). Numerous areas of the Fatal Accidents Act (the Act) are open to criticism and the decision to raise the bereavement award by such a small amount has merely brought to the fore again the issue of overdue change to the Act. Bereavement damages: history No damages for bereavement are recoverable at common law and it was s 3 of the Administration of Justice Act 1982 that allowed for the statutory recovery of such damages, by inserting s 1A into the Fatal Accidents Act. Only since 1 January 1983 have bereavement damages been recoverable at all. The Government introduced the bereavement award in response to a Law Commission report in 1973 (Report on personal injury litigation – Assessment of Damag...

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