Smoking too much? Drinking too much?

Get the defendants to pay for it


In cases where the effects of an injury are that the claimant’s consumption of alcohol or tobacco increases, a recent case of Hutchinson -v- Metropolitan Police Commissions (2005) suggests that damages may be awarded for the increased cost of smoking or drinking more as a result of the injuries. There is a useful article on this at page 2 of the October 2005 Personal Injury Law Journal entitled “The cost of compulsion”

New Legislation

Compensation Bill

This has now received its First Reading. The Bill proposes to give public bodies, such as schools and voluntary organisations, liability protection in the event of an accident. The Bill is supposed to stagnate the alleged “compensation culture”.

The Bill proposes that, when considering whether a defendant should have taken steps to prevent a risk, Judges may have regard to whether a requirement to take those steps might prevent a “desirable activity from being undertaken” or “discourage persons from undertaking functions in connection with a desirable activity”. It is all very interesting and rather strange. What is a “desirable activity”? Are we just talking about school trips, as the media has made such a fuss about?

All this at a time when the Better Regulation Task Force has confirmed that there is no compensation culture and that there has in fact been an overall decline in litigation in recent years. The Government is falling into a trap set by the insurance industry. We will report further on this as the Bill makes its progress through Parliament.

Control of Vibration at Work Regulations

We have referred to these regulations in previous issues. They came into force in July 2005. There is a helpful article on the regulations in the November 2005 issue of the Personal Injury Law Journal at page 9 entitled “Limiting exposure”.

Information update

Hand-arm vibration: the control of vibration at work regulations 2005(L140) (which replaces HSG88) is now available. There is an explanatory booklet for employers available at

Personal Injury Law Journal – No 40 November 2005 contains the following articles:

  • Workplace Harassment:  Vicarious Liability – The use of the Protection from Harassment Act in bullying claims and the effect of the Court of Appeal's decision in Majrowski on employers and insurers.
  • CFAs:  All Change? – The new regime revokes previous statutory instruments that set out the requirements for valid CFAs and CCFAs. This article examines whether changes are required to solicitors' practice.
  • Control of Vibration at Work Regulations: Limiting Exposure.
  • Clinical Negligence: Right to Life – In light of the recent decision by Somerset Coast PCT to allow the prescription of an unlicensed drug, this article assesses potential legal challenges to decisions to withhold or restrict medical treatment .
  • Management Accounts: Profitable Advice – The first of two articles considers key financial factors that concern PI practices .
  • Asbestos-Related Diseases:  Reclaiming the Lost Years – The rationale and mechanics of "lost years" claims .
  • Case Report: Ian McGlinn -v- Waltham Contractors Ltd & Ors – Recovery of costs incurred at pre-action stage; costs incidental to proceedings; s.51 of the Supreme Court Act 1981 .
  • Parting Shot: Are You Being Served? – The risks involved for claimants who serve claim forms too readily and without strict adherence to the Civil Procedure Rules.