David Rowe (by his litigation friend Angela Griffiths) v Dolman [2008] CA

The Claimant suffered brain and spinal injuries after being knocked down on a pedestrian crossing by the Defendant. He was severely disabled and confined to a wheelchair. The only issues at trial were the Claimant’s life expectancy and whether to award a lump sum or periodical payment. Three experts gave evidence of life expectancy of 15-18 years and one gave evidence of 3 – 5 years. The Judge ruled that the figure of 3 years was overly pessimistic with no explanation as to how the expert arrived at that figure, and held that life expectancy of 15 years was appropriate. The Defendant appealed, contending that the decision as to life expectancy was unreasoned. Furthermore the Judge had failed to properly take into account an equity release scheme, releasing money from the Claimant’s property. Had he done so he might have ordered periodical payments.

Held: The decision on life expectancy was based upon the factual evidence of three experts. The award of the lump was not based on any error of law. An award of periodical payment would not have adequately covered care costs. The equity release would only cover the shortfall in care costs for three years. It was perfectly rational to award a lump sum in the circumstances. Appeal dismissed.