30 OCT 2014
John Edward Billett v Ministry of Defence  EWHC 3060 (QB)
Loss of earnings – future losses – multipliers – Ogden tables
High Court, Queen’s Bench Division
Andrew Edis QC (sitting as a Deputy High Court Judge)
5 September 2014
The claimant, an acting corporal in the British Army, suffered a non-freezing cold injury and left his post as a result. Liability was admitted 75% in his favour. In determining quantum the court had to decide the extent of the injury and the basis upon which to calculate his future loss of earnings.
The claimant was injured during an outdoor exercise and subsequently left the army claiming the injury as the reason for him leaving. He claimed to have suffered a non- freezing cold injury to his hands and feet which had not resolved and left him incapable of continuing in his military role.
The court determined that on the basis of the medical evidence available there had been no injury to the hands and applied a modest award for general damages as a result. Further, the court held that the reason for the claimant leaving his post was not due to the injury but rather because he had made plans for life as a civilian and left to fulfil those.
The claimant’s claim for loss of congenial employment failed because he had given up his military career for reasons other than his injury. In assessing his future loss of earnings, a lump sum was not appropriate as there were no uncertainty as to the future; the claimant wanted to work as a HGV driver. The court therefore turned to the Ogden Tables A and B to determine the loss. The issue was whether the multiplier used ought to be adjusted.
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It was held that the claimant’s future job as a driver would earn him the same as his previous role, however the claimant was disabled by reference to the Ogden definition. As a result he would find it more difficult to gain future employment. Notwithstanding this, it was held that there are few people who meet the criteria of being disabled but yet remain as fit and able as the claimant. Accordingly, the multiplier was substantially reduced for contingencies other than mortality to reflect the minor nature of the claimant’s disability.
In total the claimant was entitled to £127,956.45 which included £12,500 in respect of general damages and interest. Hope v Ministry of Defence  1 QR 11 and Leeson v Siemens Plc  CLY 2902 considered. Comment
Sadly for the claimant in this case the medical evidence did not support the existence of injury to his upper limbs. The court therefore reduced the general damages accordingly. His future losses were also reduced on account of him being fit and able, despite him fulfilling the definition of ‘disabled’ as a consequence of his injuries.