In the recent case of Smith v Lancashire Teaching Hospital NHS Trust & Secretary of State for Justice [2017] EWCA Civ 1916, the Court of Appeal held that section 1A of the Fatal Accidents Act 1976 was incompatible with article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights, to the extent that it prevented cohabitants from receiving bereavement damages.

In this case, the claimant had cohabited with her partner for over two years before he died as a result of the defendants’ negligence. However, she had not been able to claim bereavement damages under the Fatal Accidents Act. The Court of Appeal made a declaration that section 1A of the Act was incompatible with human rights in respect of its exclusion of cohabitees of over two years.

At some point, the Government may amend the law to make it compatible by bringing cohabitees under the bereavement damages provisions. Until any changes are made, the current provisions under section 1A of the Fatal Accidents Act continue to apply.

A link to the recent article written by Alistair Kinley in respect of this case can be accessed here.