Practice and Procedure


PUBLISHED November 3, 2003

The Court of Appeal could not interfere with awards of ?145,000 for general damages, a nil award for present and future earning capacity, £39,936 for the cost of future accommodation, and £215,000 for the cost of supply and replacement of prosthesis.Defendant's appeal from the decision of HH Judge Bursell on 10 February 2003 entering judgment for the claimant and awarding damages in the sum of £1,171,719.52 including interest. The defendant had admitted liability for a road traffic accident in which the 35 year old claimant suffered injuries including: (i) severe damage to his dominant right arm leading to amputation; (ii) a compound fracture to the left wrist resulting in surgery and weak, stiff, clawed fingers; (iii) injury to the left shoulder; (iv) spine and neck injury resulting in pain and stiffness; (v) a fractured and dislocated hip which required a replacement operation; (vi) a fractured right fibula and damage to the right knee, which required an operation; (vii) bowel and bladder incontinence; (viii) nerve paralysis; (ix) headaches, impaired memory and depression; and (x) double vision. On appeal against the award, the defendant argued as follows: (a) the award of £145,000 for general damages was erroneous and manifestly excessive; (b) a nil award for present and future earning capacity was wrong as there was no evidence that the claimant was not capable of finding employment in the future, and the claimant had expressed a desire to work; (c) the judge had wrongly awarded £39,936 for the cost of future accommodation as he had made a generous award for general damages to provide the claimant compensation for his desire not to live in cheaper, reasonable accommodation; and (d) prosthesis were available on the NHS such that burden on the defendant of the award of £215,000 for the cost of supply and replacement of prosthesis was wrong.HELD: (1) Taking the award in the round, although this court could not say that it would make an award of £145,000, the award was not too high that this court should interfere. (2) The judge was in a better position than this court in assessing the appropriate approach. On the totality of the medical evidence the judge had found that there was no chance that the claimant would be able to obtain employment in the future. It was not appropriate for this court to differ from the view of the judge. (3) The cost of accommodation was the sort of issue on which the judge was in a better position than this court, and the judge's approach in adopting the claimant's then current property as a starting point was perfectly reasonable. (4) The judge was entitled to find that it was reasonable for the claimant to acquire a range of devices and to renew them every 5 years from a private centre.Appeal dismissed.