Gammell v Wilson; Furness v Massey: HL 1980

Lord Diplock set out the method of assessment of damages for lost years: ‘Here was an obvious injustice which this House remedied by overruling Oliver v. Ashman [1962] 2 Q.B. 210 and holding that a living plaintiff could recover damages for loss of earnings during the lost years; but that in assessing the measure of such damages here should be deducted from the total earnings the amount that he would have spent out of those earnings upon his own living expenses and pleasures, since these would represent an expense that would be saved in consequence of his death. In the case of a married man of middle age and of a settled pattern of life, which was the case of Mr. Pickett, the effect of this deduction is to leave a net figure which represents the amount which he would have spent on providing for his wife and any other dependants, together with any savings that he might set aside cut of his income. If one ignores the savings element, which in most cases could be likely to be small, this net figure is substantially the same as the damages that would have been recoverable by the widow under the Fatal Accidents Acts; it represents the dependency. So, in the particular case of Mr. Pickett’s widow the result was to do substantial justice.
Lord Scarman said: ‘The loss to the estate is what the deceased would have been likely to have available to save, spend, or distribute after meeting the cost of his living at a standard which his job and career prospects at time of death would suggest he was reasonably likely to achieve.’


Lord Fraser of Tullybelton, Lord Diplock, Lord Scarman


[1980] 3 WLR 591, (1980) 124 SJ, [1980] All ER 557


England and Wales

Cited by:

Appeal fromGammell v Wilson; Furness v Massey HL 1982
In each case, the deceased, died as a result of the defendants’ negligence. The parents claimed damages for themselves as dependants under the 1976 Act, and for the estate under the 1934 Act. The claims under the 1976 Act were held to have been . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.


Updated: 06 May 2022; Ref: scu.222516