Lots of black-letter law from the High Court of Australia in Barclay v Penberthy, [2012] HCA 40.

Five employees of Nautronix were involved in a plane crash. Sadly, two died and the other three were seriously injured. The company, the three survivors and the spouses of the latter brought claims against Fugro Spatial Solutions (from which the plane was chartered), Penberthy (the pilot) and Barclay (the engineer who had advised – negligently it was found – the use of the sub-standard part that caused the plane’s engine to fail).  

The High Court dismissed the claims made by Nautronix for damages arising from the deaths of its two employees. The court relied on the rule in Baker v Bolton (1808) 1 Camp 493, 170 ER 1033, which provides that the death of a person cannot constitute a cause of action for damages (except to the extent the rule is modified by statute – for example in fatal accidents or family law legislation). The company could recover, however, on the old action per quod servitium amisit (for loss of the services of an employee). This is not a negligence claim, so it does not depend on a finding of a duty of care; it is merely an action to recover the replacement value of lost services. The majority also allowed Nautronix to recover for economic loss arising from the negligence of the pilot (who owed a duty not to cause such loss). A similar claim against the engineer was abandoned at an earlier stage of the proceedings in favour of the per quod claim against him.  

[Link available here and here].