Periodical payment orders

As from 1st April, Sections 100 and 101 of the Courts Act come into operation. They implement periodical payment orders, which will have a fundamental impact on damages in large cases. The courts will have power to impose an order for periodical payments in substitution for part of a lump sum award.

Pleural plaques test cases

In the March issue of the Bulletin, we reported the successful decision in these cases. The defendant’s insurers, Norwich Union, have served a Notice of Appeal. However other defendants British Shipbuilders have not appealed.

The appeal relates to actionability and also an appeal on quantum. It is likely to be several months yet before the case reaches the Court of Appeal.

Substantial award of general damages in mesothelioma case

The High Court made an award of £67,000 general damages in respect of a deceased victim who underwent extensive chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment and radical surgery to remove his lung, pleura and part of his diaphragm and pericardium. The deceased had a number of other operative procedures in the year prior to his death. The Judge stated that the award “is not just a question of the duration of the physical symptoms, but also it must take into consideration the type of treatment”. The Judge also made an award of £2,800 for the loss of a husband’s love and affection.

Small -v- Circaprint Limited (2005)

Award for AIDS risk

A female ambulance technician aged 32 at the date of trial suffered a needle injury when using a defective click pen, which caused her to scratch her left index finger while taking blood from a collapsed patient at his home. A colleague at the scene told her that the patient was HIV positive, a fact which was confirmed later. She was told there was a 1 in 300 chance of developing Aids. She immediately began on triple therapy, being given 18 tablets a day to take for one month during which time she felt nauseated and occasionally she vomited, having on one occasion to be admitted to hospital due to the side effects of the medication. She was off work for three weeks. She was given advice regarding bodily fluids and could not kiss her partner or two small children. The relationship with her partner was affected. For six months she behaved as though she was HIV positive. She slept badly and constantly felt tense, developing post traumatic stress disorder for which she took anti depressants.

She had a final Aids test after six months and was told it was negative. Her psychological problems were expected to resolve by about 15 months post accident.

The Judge found that the fact that she did not know what was going to happen for six months was “ghastly”. General damages were awarded of £6,000.

Ratcliffe -v- Greater Manchester Ambulance Service NHS Trust Manchester County Court