08 Nov 2022

Clinical Negligence

Bereavement Laws in the UK – why they need reform

APIL (The Association of Personal Injury Lawyers) are currently campaigning for reform to Bereavement Damages in England & Wales, which trails behind the rest of the UK.

The president of APIL said “The system is out-of-touch and needs proper reform if it is ever to deliver justice for grieving relatives.” APIL is taking the campaign to Westminster next month, with a parliamentary reception dedicated to raising awareness among MPs and peers of the need for reform.

When someone is killed due to someone else’s negligence, some relatives are entitled to compensation to help “atone” for their loss. Of course, no financial remedy will ever make up for the unexpected loss of a loved one but, as things stand, there are different rules across the UK when it comes to what is going to be awarded, and to who.

In Scotland, for over 40 years, meaningful compensation has been awarded to a wide range of relatives on a case-by-case basis. Bereaved relatives are treated fairly and in a way that reflects modern society.

In England and Wales, it is only available to a spouse or civil partner, a cohabitee (as long as they have lived together for over 2 years) and the parents of unmarried children, who are under the age of 18. So, for example, if a sibling or step-parent is the closest relative someone has had, they will be totally disregarded. Likewise, and there are examples of this, someone could meet their partner, live with them and have a child with them, but because they hadn’t lived together for 2 years, were never in the running.

The calls are for England & Wales to be pulled in line with the Scottish system and APIL see “no valid reason” why that can’t happen.

Ken Thomas, Head of our Clinical Negligence Department and APIL Accredited Specialist solicitor said: “The current level of damages awarded to bereaved family members is woefully inadequate and we would welcome any changes to the rules which simply do not go far enough.”

We wait to see the outcome of APIL’s campaign.

If you have lost someone to clinical negligence, please contact our specialist team today, to see where you stand.

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