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General damages to increase by ten per cent from April 2013

The Court of Appeal has today (26 July 2012) confirmed that general damages in most civil actions will rise by ten per cent from April next year.

26 July 2012

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The move is a key proposal of the Jackson reforms and will apply to personal injury cases, nuisance, defamation and all other torts which cause “suffering, inconvenience or distress to individuals” where judgment is given after 1 April 2013.

Many of the Jackson Review’s recommendations have been enacted by parliament in the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012.

However, an integral part of the new overall costs regime is that general damages in most actions should rise by ten per cent, and that was not included in the 2012 Act, because, as Lord Diplock observed in a judgment in a personal injury appeal in 1983, the Court of Appeal is “generally speaking the tribunal best qualified to set guidelines for judges trying such actions” (Wright v British Railways Board [1983] 2 AC 773 (HL)).

The Court of Appeal issues such guidelines to ensure consistency of approach in the assessment of damages, and case law provides for such guidance to set damages and to keep tariffs up to date, said the release from the Ministry of Justice. As Lord Diplock also said such “guidelines should be altered if circumstances relevant to the particular guideline change”.

In today’s judgment in Simmons v Castle [2012] EWCA Civ 1039, the Court of Appeal stated: “This court has not merely the power, but a positive duty, to monitor and where appropriate to alter, the guideline rates for general damages.”

The judgment explained that early notice was being given of the ten per cent increase due to take effect in April 2013 to enable all parties engaged in or contemplating litigation to be aware of the impending change, and prepare accordingly.

For a full copy of the judgment see http://www.judiciary.gov.uk/Resources/JCO/Documents/Judgments/simmons-v-castle.pdf

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