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Minster Law urges Ministry of Justice to extend bereavement award review

Minster Law has welcomed the decision by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) to extend bereavement awards (i) to reflect changing social trends.

A bereavement award (currently £12,980) is paid out to relatives following deaths caused by negligence.

This change to the law has arisen following the 2017 decision by the Court of Appeal in the case of Jacqueline Smith v Lancashire Teaching Hospitals.  The amendment to the Act will extend the scope of the eligible parties to include the cohabiting partner of a deceased, as long as this person had lived with the deceased for at least 2 years prior to the date of death and they had been living as husband and wife or civil partner during this period.

Anthony Doodson, Principal Solicitor at Minster Law said: “It is good news that ministers want to modernise the bereavement awards and bring them into the 21st Century, but ministers are missing a golden opportunity to go a stage further and extend the award to others close to the deceased who are affected by the devastating impact of a fatal accident caused by negligence.

He urged ministers to increase the scope of the review. “The criteria should also include the fathers of children born outside of marriage.”

“It should also increase the size of the award, which has been stuck on a shamefully low figure of £12,980 for six years and is only given to the spouse, and parents of children up to the age of [18]. An inflation-only increase would take the award to just over £15,000, but this is below the bare minimum, and instead we urge ministers to press for inflation plus increases to achieve an award to a more appropriate level following years of neglect.”

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/799965/draft-remedial-order-fatal-accidents-act-1976.pdf