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Clinical Negligence - Damages - Interim Payments - Special Accommodation
15 December 2015
HIgh Court, Queen's Bench Division: Whipple J
The claimant brought a claim for clinical negligence against the trust as a result of serious injuries suffered at birth. The claimant sought an interim payment of £1,203,300.00 to allow adapted accommodation to be purchased prior to the trial which was likely to be held in 2018. The defendant contested this on the basis that the claimant should remain in rented accommodation until trial at which point it could be fully determined what the future accommodation needs were. The claimant’s application was granted and the interim payment was awarded in the full amount sought.Article continues below...
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The claimant, who is seven years old, suffers from bilateral cerebral palsy which was contracted at birth as a result of the defendant trust’s negligence. The medical experts also identified significant behavioural problems, development problems and a cognitive deficit. The claimant is not expected to be freely mobile in the future and there is no prospect that he will ever gain capacity or be able to live independently. He does, however, have a long life expectancy.
The claimant made an application for an interim payment in the amount of £1,203,300 for the primary purpose of allowing him and his family to be re-housed to suitable accommodation. They also wished to purchase care and psychological support to facilitate a programme of behavioural management to address aspects of the claimant’s behaviour in advance of the trial which was expected to be held in 2018.
He relied on the report of his accommodation expert which recommended single storey housing with wheelchair access and a therapy room amongst other things.
Whilst the defendant did not argue that the claimant’s current accommodation was unsuitable, they had in fact agreed with many aspects of the claimant expert’s accommodation report, they contested the need for 'single story accommodation'. They argued that the claimant should continue to rent until trial at which point the accommodation claim could be assessed in light of all the evidence.
In reaching his decision the Judge relied of Eeles v Cobham Hire Services Ltd  EWCA Civ 204 and considered that the first stage was to determine the likely amount that would be awarded to the claimant at final judgment on a conservative basis.
In doing this he calculated the accommodation costs on a Roberts v Johnstone basis, reaching a figure of £600,000 with a further £337,000 included for adaptation works. The total conservative valuation under Eeles was considered to be £1,337,000.
He then considered that the claimant was entitled to award a high proportion of this figure under Eeles and commented that in Glasgow v Hillington Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (unreported) 5 May 2015, QBD (Master Roberts) the court had awarded 90% and that this amounted to £1,203,300. This figure was therefore awarded as an interim payment.
As this case once again illustrates, the courts almost always consider applications for interim payments having regard to the claimant’s needs and the likely final award no matter what counter arguments are made by defendants. This is only fair as looking after the interests of someone so severely injured is at the forefront of justice.
Sandra De Souza and Tom Dickinson, Anthony Gold Solicitors