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22 August 2006 - PI Practitioner

DAMAGES FOR ACCIDENTS ABROAD: APPLICABILITY OF ENGLISH LAW
Harding v. Wealands [2006] UKHL 32
An English court dealing with a personal injury claim arising from a road traffic accident in New South Wales should apply English law to the assessment of damages.

Section 14 of the Private International Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1995 sets out that matters of procedure are governed by the forum in which the case is heard. An assessment of damages was a matter of procedure under Section 14, and was therefore to be carried out according to the law of the forum.

A New South Wales statute limiting the amount of damages recoverable did not relate to the actionability of the losses suffered by the claimant, but rather to the remedies the court was to provide. It was therefore a procedural restriction, and was therefore inapplicable by the English courts.

DISTINCTION BETWEEN A BLAMIRE AWARD AND A SMITH V MANCHESTER AWARD
Ronan v. J Sainsbury PLC 6th July 2006, CA
An award pursuant to Blamire v South Cumbria Health Authority (1993) PIQR 1 was appropriate where future lost earnings could not be quantified by a multiplier/multiplicand approach: where there were too many uncertainties to do so, it was appropriate to award a lump sum. A Smith v. Manchester award should be made where the claimant had a future loss contingent on him losing his job and then suffering a handicap on the labour market. Such a loss could be quantified.

EXPERT WITNESSES: CONFLICT OF INTEREST
Toth v. Jarman [2006] EWCA Civ 1028
An expert witness is not necessarily disqualified from giving evidence because he is in a conflict of interest. The question is whether his evidence is independent of the parties and the pressure of litigation. However, if an expert is in a position of conflict, the court is likely to refuse permission to rely on his evidence.

If such a conflict arises, the party calling the expert must draw it to the other side’s attention as soon as possible. This should ordinarily be on service of the expert’s report, as the CV should disclose any potential conflict. However, if the conflict only arises later, the party should disclose it at the first practicable date.