We recently held an award against an appeal to the Court of Appeal by defendants who said that the amount of damages awarded to an employee who had worked for them for 35 years and who had developed asthma as a result of exposure to fumes was too high.

The claimant had applied for and was granted special early retirement and was paid a lump sum and an annual pension. At trial, damages were assessed on the basis that the claimant had not had gainful employment since taking special early retirement. The defendants contended that the claimant should have remained with the company doing a different job instead of taking special early retirement, and that the Judge’s assessment of what the claimant could have earned if he had taken steps to mitigate his loss was too low.

The Court of Appeal held that the defendants were suggesting that, in applying for special early retirement, the claimant had in some way failed to mitigate his loss. It had been open to the defendants to make an alternative offer of employment to the claimant as he had carried on working for 7 months after being diagnosed.

That gave them ample time to consider the claimant’s position and to make an alternative offer, instead of which they accepted his application for special early retirement which was a discretionary programme. The figure that the judge assessed as being what the claimant could have earned if he had mitigated his loss was a modest figure taking into account the claimant’s experience.

The Judge was entitled to reach the conclusion that he had and his decision was sufficiently reasoned.

McKeown -v- Ford Motor Company Limited. Court of Appeal, 9 March 2006.

Changes to capital rules for income-related

means tested benefits

With effect from 10 April 2006 the lower capital threshold increases from £3,000 to £6,000 for income support, income-based job seekers allowance, housing benefit and council tax benefit. The upper capital threshold for income support and income-based job seekers allowance increases from £8,000 to £16,000. The current upper capital threshold of £16,000 for council tax and housing benefits remains unchanged.