Simmons v Castle [26.07.12]
The Court of Appeal handed down a judgment today which confirms a 10 per cent increase in general damages in most civil cases where judgment is given after 1 April 2013 - Simmons v Castle [26.07.12].
The wider context for the judgment is the balanced package of measures recommended in the final report of the "Review of Civil Litigation Costs" produced by Lord Justice Jackson in January 2010, and due to be implemented in the large part in April 2013, including by virtue of the Legal Aid Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders (LASPO) Act 2012.
An integral part of the new overall costs regime includes a 10 per cent increase in general damages in personal injury claims, together with other measures including the introduction of qualified one-way costs shifting (QOCS) and changes to the Part 36 regime.
The increase in general damages was not included in the LASPO Act on the basis that 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).
In today’s judgment, 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 in personal injury actions."
How will the new guidelines be applied?
The Court of Appeal has ruled that the 10 per cent increase should apply to all cases where judgment is given after 1 April 2013.
The judgment explained that early notice was being given of the 10 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.
This provides a useful reminder of the importance of preparation for the overall legislative changes in legal costs which will take effect in April 2013.
Detail on the increase in general damages
General damages will increase by 10 per cent from 1 April 2013 for the following categories of case:
- Pain, suffering and loss of amenity in respect of personal injury
- All other torts which cause suffering, inconvenience or distress to individuals
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