Allianz, the defendant insurers in Collier v A Norton1, were ordered to pay a lump sum of £7.25 million in addition to annual payments of £270,000 to 17-year-old pupil of Cheltenham Ladies College, Agnes Collier. While this would amount to just over £15 million with the conventional lifetime multiplier applied, the claimant solicitors, Stewarts Law, have claimed the index-linked payments could amount to over £23 million with inflation. Whether £15 million or £23 million, the damages are likely to comfortably exceed the previous record of £12.2 million for personal injury.

Some of the features identified by MacDuff J for the unusually high payout included the claimant’s severe tetraplegia and the high loss of future earnings that was indicated to be likely: the claimant achieved excellent exam results despite her injuries. The judge also took the claimant’s less typical personal circumstances into account, including the substantial modifications needed for the large family house, her being used to expensive holidays, and her future accommodation claims.  

The combination of these features produced the unusually large payout. So, despite the headline figure, the claim likely represents less a watershed approach to damages awards, but more a “perfect storm” of quantum.