Practice and Procedure


PUBLISHED March 19, 2003

Award of damages of ?1.4 million to a financial adviser and investment analyst who had been unable to work following a road traffic accident which resulted in a post-traumatic stress disorder and moderately severe depressive illness.Assessment of damages arising out of a road traffic accident in which the claimant ('C'), who was a rear seat passenger in his chauffer-driven car, suffered a whiplash, hyper extension injury to the neck. The defendant ('D') admitted liability. C, who was aged 46 at the time of the accident, already had a severe pre-existing degeneration at C5/6 and C6/7 levels, the apparent cause of which was the high-level sport which he had pursued in his youth. He underwent a successful vertebrectomy of C6 two months after the accident. However, he developed a post-traumatic stress disorder ('PTSD'), (which appeared to have been resolved by the time of this hearing subject to a car avoidance syndrome) and he had a moderately severe, persistent depressive illness. He had been unable to resume his career as a financial adviser and investment analyst and consultant. C claimed loss and damage totalling approximately £2,782,164. D's case was that: (i) the condition of C's neck immediately prior to the accident was already on a knife-edge waiting for a jolt, which would inevitably have led to deterioration and surgery; (ii) C had a predisposition to depressive illness; and (iii) C's alleged loss of earnings was speculative and exaggerated.HELD: (1) The gross degeneration of C's spine meant that surgery would have been required by September 2009. C was entitled, therefore, to compensation for the pain, suffering and loss of amenity occurring about 10 years earlier than it would have done but for the accident. (2) The court accepted that C's PTSD was largely resolved and that with the appropriate medication, C would make a substantial but incomplete recovery from his depression sufficient to enable him to lead a comparatively normal life. (3) Taking into account the accelerated physical pain, the PTSD and the moderately severe depression lasting for upwards of five years, the appropriate award by way of general damages was £35,000. (4) But for the accident, it was improbable that C would have developed a depressive illness disabling him from pursuing his career. There was a significant chance that he would have been offered remunerative directorships and share options in relation to the companies on whose behalf he would have acted. The court assessed the value of that lost chance in a global sum of £300,000. (5) The court then assessed C's loss of past and future earnings in a sum of approximately £1 million.Judgment accordingly.For the Quantum Report in this matter, see David John Strickland Collins v David Ernest Jones (2003) LTLPI 26/3/2003.

[2003] EWHC 187 (QB)