- Psychological Issues
Recently introduced legislation in the House of Commons, the Negligence and Damages Bill could herald the much-needed upgrading to how the England and Wales law treats victims and bereaved families due to psychiatric harm.
The new private bill known as the Negligence and Damages Bill was presented to the House of Commons on 13th October 2015 by Labour M.P Andy McDonald. Among the proposals contained in the Bill is to extend the current list of statutory relationships recognised by law. This is where it is assumed that there exists a ‘close tie of affection and love’. The Bill further wants to extend the family list of who are eligible to claim damages related to bereavement. The proposals will in addition bring Wales and England more in conformity to the law in Scotland, where every case gets evaluated purely on its own particular merits.
The 2 basic features of what the Bill wants to achieve are:
The legal Position Today
Currently, the legal position remains as was developed following the Hillsborough disaster of 1989.
Main features include:
The Proposed Changes
Losing a loved one could be an extremely traumatising life experiences and the loss can be quite heavy when this is due to an act of negligence by somebody else.
The new bill is proposing a new legal framework, which effectively relaxes the existing requirements in a number of important ways:
The Amount of Bereavement Damages
Currently, the compensation amount paid out to a claimant is done according to the provisions of The 1976 Fatal Accidents Act. It is a fixed arbitrary lump sum, presently set at £12,980, not considering the personal circumstances surrounding the person claiming. The amount can only be claimed by the civil partner or spouse of the dead person and the parents of any unmarried child under below 18. In the situation of an illegitimate child, it’s only the mother who can claim.
The bill specifically seeks to have the following provisions repealed:
The legal changes proposed will now reflect the existing situation in found in Scotland.
The Negligence and Damages Bill 2015/16 provisions will, in case they make it to the statute book, offer a clear and useful law codification that relates to all damages for bereavement damages, psychiatric harm as well as the classes of persons entitled to submit compensation claims. Through proposing to expand the potential claimants list, it is providing a welcome indicator of how family and societal relationships have undergone through significant changes since the time of framing the current legislation in the 1970/80s.