The President of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers, John Spencer, has urged the government to learn lessons from Scotland and introduce equality between jurisdictions over the way bereavement damages are handled.
Currently the justice system for bereavement offers, by far, the most respect and compassion towards bereaved people in terms of the way the level of damages they receive are considered and Mr Spencer would like to see England, Wales and Northern Ireland fall into the same line.
As things stand in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, it is only the spouses or civil partner of a person who has been killed through the negligence of someone else who are entitled to bereavement damages as well as the parents of a child under the age of 18 who is deceased.
These damages stand at £12,980 in England and Wales and £11,800 in Northern Ireland,
In comparison Scotland look closer tat the relationship of the deceased with their relatives to decipher fair payment and also takes into the relationship of other relatives, especially when it comes to the upbringing of a deceased child.
Mr Spencer said: “In Scotland bereavement damages are based on proper consideration of the closeness of relatives to the deceased to ensure payments are fair.”
“Scottish law clearly has no difficulty recognising the closeness of children to deceased parents or the dependency of other relatives on the deceased.”
“Why should a bereaved child in Newcastle receive no compensation to help cope with the loss of a parent when a bereaved child living a few miles north, across the border, receives the help he or she needs?”
It is clear looking at things retrospectively that process of bereavement damages clearly needs looking at and changes for the better are needed to ensure that this situation, which nobody should ever have to face, is handled with the right amount of care, sympathy and respect towards the deceased and those bereaved.
APIL have been regular campaigners for change in this department, none more so than the previous President, Matthew Stockwell. Last year he described the way damages are considered for bereavements as a “Postcode Lottery” after a survey showed that 80% of people said the Scottish system for bereavement damages was fairer.
Yet nothing has been done to address the lack of equality in this system. There is no reason England, Wales and Northern Ireland, shouldn’t have processes that align themselves with Scotland, after all we are all part of the UK.