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 The Social Security (Recovery of Benefits) Act 1997 had repealed section 103 of the 1992 Act, but had put no provision in its place.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
Kathy (Sally Lindsay) in Ordinary Lies
tvReview: The seemingly dull Kathy proves her life is anything but a snoozefest
Arts and Entertainment

Listen to his collaboration with Naughty Boy

music
Arts and Entertainment
Daniel Craig in a scene from ‘Spectre’, released in the UK on 23 October

film
Arts and Entertainment
Cassetteboy's latest video is called Emperor's New Clothes rap

film
Arts and Entertainment

Poldark review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Katie Brayben is nominated for Best Actress in a Musical for her role as Carole King in Beautiful

film
Arts and Entertainment
Israeli-born actress Gal Gadot has been cast to play Wonder Woman
film
News
Top Gear presenter James May appears to be struggling with his new-found free time
people
Arts and Entertainment
Kendrick Lamar at the Made in America Festival in Los Angeles last summer
music
Arts and Entertainment
'Marley & Me' with Jennifer Aniston and Owen Wilson
film
Arts and Entertainment
Jon Hamm (right) and John Slattery in the final series of Mad Men
tv
Arts and Entertainment
theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Place Blanche, Paris, 1961, shot by Christer Strömholm
photographyHow the famous camera transformed photography for ever
Arts and Entertainment
The ‘Westmacott Athlete’
art
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tv Some of the characters appear to have clear real-life counterparts
News
Brooks is among a dozen show-business professionals ever to have achieved Egot status
people
Arts and Entertainment
A cut above: Sean Penn is outclassed by Mark Rylance in The Gunman
film review
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
James Franco and Zachary Quinto in I Am Michael

Film review Michael Glatze biopic isn't about a self-hating gay man gone straight

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the movie 'Get Hard'
tvWill Ferrell’s new film Get Hard receives its first reviews
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: David Cameron (Mark Dexter), Nick Clegg (Bertie Carvel) and Gordon Brown (Ian Grieve)
tvReview: Ian Grieve gets another chance to play Gordon Brown... this is the kinder version
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman in the first look picture from next year's Sherlock special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Because it wouldn’t be Glastonbury without people kicking off about the headline acts, a petition has already been launched to stop Kanye West performing on the Saturday night

music
Arts and Entertainment
Molly Risker, Helen Monks, Caden-Ellis Wall, Rebekah Staton, Erin Freeman, Philip Jackson and Alexa Davies in ‘Raised by Wolves’

TV review
  • Get to the point
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.

    General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

    The masterminds behind the election

    How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
    Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

    Machine Gun America

    The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
    The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

    The ethics of pet food

    Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
    How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

    How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

    Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
    11 best bedside tables

    11 best bedside tables

    It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
    Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

    Italy vs England player ratings

    Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
    Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

    An underdog's tale of making the most of it

    Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
    Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

    Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

    Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
    No postcode? No vote

    Floating voters

    How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

    By Reason of Insanity

    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
    Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

    Power dressing is back

    But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
    Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

    Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

    Caves were re-opened to the public
    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

    Vince Cable interview

    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
    Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

    Promises, promises

    But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
    The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

    The death of a Gaza fisherman

    He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat