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A realistic and common-sense approach. A reminder of the principles relating to the assessment of damages under section 3 FAA: Paramount Shopfitting Company Ltd v Rix [2021] EWCA Civ 1172 - Rochelle Powell, Temple Garden Chambers

14/09/21. This was an appeal against the order of Cavanagh J, whereby he ordered that the respondent, the widow of Martin Rix (“Mrs Rix”), had suffered a loss of financial dependency. It was the appellant’s case that Mrs Rix had no financial dependency claim because the family business had been profitable since the death of Mr Rix.

Factual Background

Mr Rix died at the age of 60 from mesothelioma contracted from asbestos exposure when working for the appellant. Mr Rix left the appellant’s employment in the 1970s. Thereafter, he spent his working life building up a successful business which he subsequently ran as a profitable company, MRER Ltd. At the time of his death Mr Rix and his wife each held a 40% shareholding, with their two sons holding 10% each. Following his death, Mrs Rix inherited his shareholding so that she owned 80% of the shares at the time of the trial. Despite Mr Rix’s death, turnover and gross profit continued to grow.

Mrs Rix’s claims were brought under the Law Reform (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1934 and the Fatal Accidents Act 1976 (“FAA”). It was agreed before the judge that one issue would be determined, namely whether Mrs Rix had a valid claim for financial dependency and, if so, how it should be quantified.

At first instance

Mr Justice Cavanagh examined the key authorities relating to the issue of quantifying dependency pursuant to section 3 of the FAA. Applying the principles therein, he found that Mrs Rix had suffered a loss of financial dependency, notwithstanding that the business was more profitable than it was at the time of her husband’s death. The authorities made it clear that...

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