Law Report: Interest calculation to disregard benefits

Wadey v Surrey County Council Court of Appeal (Lord Justice Simon Brown, Lord Justice Otton and Lord Justice Schiemann) 11 December 1998

WHEN CALCULATING interest on a plaintiff's damages for past losses in personal injury actions the court should disregard state benefits received by the plaintiff.

The Court of Appeal allowed the plaintiff's cross-appeal in proceedings against the defendants in respect of personal injury, loss and damage suffered as a result of injuries sustained in the course of his employment with the defendants as a fire-fighter.

The plaintiff had been awarded damages in the sum of pounds 224,049.81. The defendants had originally sought to impugn the judge's findings on the issue of liability, but that aspect of the case had been compromised between the parties.

The issue arose on the plaintiff's cross-appeal whether or not interest on a plaintiff's damages for past losses in an action for personal injuries should be calculated after deduction of all or some of the state benefits received by the plaintiff as a result of the accident.

Included in the plaintiff's award of pounds 224,049.81 was the sum of pounds 49,197.20, representing the benefits he had received over a five-year period. In assessing the interest on special damages those benefits had been deducted before calculation. Had they not been so deducted, the plaintiff's award would have been increased by nearly pounds 10,000.

Edward Bishop (Vizards) for the plaintiff; Charles Pugh (Lawford & Co) for the defendants.

Lord Justice Otton said that section 103 of the Social Security Administration Act 1992 had provided that benefits should be taken into account when assessing interest on an award of damages. The Social Security (Recovery of Benefits) Act 1997 had repealed section 103 of the 1992 Act, but had put no provision in its place.

The introduction of the new statutory scheme in 1997 had altered the relationship between social security benefits, damages and interest. Section 17 of the 1997 Act provided:

In assessing damages in respect of any accident, injury or disease, the amount of any listed benefits paid or likely to be paid is to be disregarded.

The question which arose in the present case was whether the enactment of the 1997 Act, and the repeal without replacement of section 103 of the 1992 Act, meant that the law had reverted to the common law position as set out in, inter alia, Jefford v Gee [1970] 2 QB 130 and Hodgson v Trapp [1989] 1 AC 807, which would mean the deduction of benefits from the damages and interest calculation; or meant that it replicated the position introduced by the Social Security Act 1989 of disregarding benefits for the purposes of damages but not interest; or whether the new legislation heralded a new approach to the issue altogether.

The scheme of the Social Security (Recovery of Benefits) Act 1997 was clear and straightforward and led to only one conclusion: in the absence of a provision on interest similar to section 103 of the 1992 Act, coupled with the unambiguous direction in section 17 as to the treatment of benefits in relation to damages, not only should benefits be disregarded from the assessment of damages, but also from the assessment of interest.

The 1997 Act was not intended as a piecemeal amendment to the existing law, but had been redrafted in its entirety, fitting with Parliament's intention of setting up a new scheme. The omission of a provision such as section 103 could not, therefore, have been unintentional.

In coming to that conclusion valuable assistance could be drawn from the decision of the Scottish Court of Session (Inner House) in Wisely v John Fulton (Plumbers) Ltd [1998] SLT 1026, in which the court had had to consider exactly the same question as that presently before the court.

Taking into consideration the general principle that on points of statutory construction which extended to both countries, English and Scottish law should be uniform, there was no compelling reason not to adopt the decision arrived at by the Scottish court.

Arts and Entertainment
Innocent victim: Oli, a 13-year-old from Cornwall, featured in ‘Kids in Crisis?’
TV review
News
Northern exposure: social housing in Edinburgh, where Hassiba now works in a takeaway
books An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Terminator Genisys: Arnie remains doggedly true to his word as the man who said 'I'll be back', returning once more to protect Sarah Connor in a new instalment

 

film review
Arts and Entertainment
Relocation, relocation: Zawe Ashton travels the pathway to Northampton
Arts and Entertainment
BBC Three was launched a little over five years ago with the slogan: “Three, is a magic number, yes it is.”

BBC Trust agrees to axe channel from TV in favour of digital move

TV
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer

film
Arts and Entertainment

books
Arts and Entertainment
Armie Hammer in the new film of ‘The Lone Ranger’

TV
Arts and Entertainment

festivals
Arts and Entertainment

Final Top Gear review

TV
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pete Doherty and Carl Barat perform at Glastonbury 2015

music
Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Richie performs live on the Pyramid stage during the third day of Glastonbury Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
Buying a stairway to Hubbard: the Scientology centre in Los Angeles
film review Chilling inside views on a secretive church
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Williamson, left, and Andrew Fearn of Sleaford Mods
musicYou are nobody in public life until you have been soundly insulted by Sleaford Mods
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dew (Jess) in Bend It Like Beckham The Musical
theatreReview: Bend It Like Beckham hits back of the net on opening night
Arts and Entertainment
The young sea-faring Charles Darwin – seen here in an 1809 portrait – is to be portrayed as an Indiana Jones-style adventurer
film
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Isis in Syria: Influential tribal leaders hold secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over possibility of mobilising against militants

    Tribal gathering

    Influential clans in Syria have held secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over the possibility of mobilising against Isis. But they are determined not to be pitted against each other
    Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians

    Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

    A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians
    Dozens of politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen linked to Indian bribery scandal die mysteriously

    Illnesses, car crashes and suicides

    Dozens of politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen linked to Indian bribery scandal die mysteriously
    Srebrenica 20 years after the genocide: Why the survivors need closure

    Bosnia's genocide, 20 years on

    No-one is admitting where the bodies are buried - literally and metaphorically
    How Comic-Con can make or break a movie: From Batman vs Superman to Star Wars: Episode VII

    Power of the geek Gods

    Each year at Comic-Con in San Diego, Hollywood bosses nervously present blockbusters to the hallowed crowd. It can make or break a movie
    What do strawberries and cream have to do with tennis?

    Perfect match

    What do strawberries and cream have to do with tennis?
    10 best trays

    Get carried away with 10 best trays

    Serve with ceremony on a tray chic carrier
    Wimbledon 2015: Team Murray firing on all cylinders for SW19 title assault

    Team Murray firing on all cylinders for title assault

    Coaches Amélie Mauresmo and Jonas Bjorkman aiming to make Scot Wimbledon champion again
    Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Vasek Pospisil must ignore tiredness and tell himself: I'm in the quarter-final, baby!

    Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

    Vasek Pospisil must ignore tiredness and tell himself: I'm in the quarter-final, baby!
    Ashes 2015: Angus Fraser's top 10 moments from previous series'

    Angus Fraser's top 10 Ashes moments

    He played in five series against Australia and covered more as a newspaper correspondent. From Waugh to Warne and Hick to Headley, here are his highlights
    Greece debt crisis: EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

    EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

    An outbreak of malaria in Greece four years ago helps us understand the crisis, says Robert Fisk
    Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas

    Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

    The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas
    How to survive electrical storms: What are the chances of being hit by lightning?

    Heavy weather

    What are the chances of being hit by lightning?
    World Bodypainting Festival 2015: Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'

    World Bodypainting Festival 2015

    Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'
    alt-j: A private jet, a Mercury Prize and Latitude headliners

    Don't call us nerds

    Craig Mclean meets alt-j - the math-folk act who are flying high