Oliver v Ashman: CA 1961

The rule that loss of earnings, in the years lost to an injured plaintiff whose life expectancy had been shortened, were not recoverable, was still good law.
Pearce LJ summarised the authorities: ‘The Law Reform Miscellaneous Provisions Act 1934 abolished the old rule ‘actio personalis moritur cum persona’ and provided for the survival of causes of action in tort for the benefit of the victim’s estate. The decision of this House in Rose v. Ford [19371 AC 826 that a claim for loss of expectation of life survived under the Act of 1934, and was not a claim for damages based on the death of a person and so barred at common law (cf The Amerika [1917] AC 38). The decision of this House in Benham v. Gamblin [1941] AC 157 that damages for loss of expectation of life could only be given up to a conventional figure, then fixed at pounds 200. The Fatal Accidents Acts under which proceedings may be brought for the benefit of dependants to recover the loss caused to those dependants by the death of the breadwinner. The amount of this loss is related to the probable future earnings which would have been made by the deceased during lost years ‘.
And ‘What is lost is an expectation, not the thing itself’
Willmer LJ said: ‘What has been lost by the person assumed to be dead is the opportunity to enjoy what he would have earned, whether by spending it or saving it. Earnings themselves strike me as being of no significance without reference to the way in which they are used. To inquire what would have been the value to a person in the position of this plaintiff of any earnings which he might have made after the date when ex hypothesi he will be dead strikes me as a hopeless
‘ task ‘

Pearce LJ, Willmer LJ
[1961] 3 WLR 669, [1961] 3 All ER 323, [1962] 2 QB 210
Law Reform Miscellaneous Provisions Act 1934
England and Wales
CitedAdmiralty Commissioners v Steamship Amerika (Owners), The Amerika PC 13-Aug-1917
The Admiralty sought to recover as an item of loss the pensions payable to the widows of sailors killed in an accident to a submarine: . .

Cited by:
OverruledPickett v British Rail Engineering HL 2-Nov-1978
Lost Earnings claim Continues after Death
The claimant, suffering from mesothelioma, had claimed against his employers and won, but his claim for loss of earnings consequent upon his anticipated premature death was not allowed. He began an appeal, but then died. His personal representatives . .
Not FollowedSkelton v Collins 7-Mar-1966
(High Court of Australia) Damages – Personal Injuries – Loss of earning capacity – Loss of expectation of life – Loss of amenities during reduced life span – Pain and suffering – Plaintiff rendered permanently unconscious by injuries – Basis of . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Damages, Personal Injury

Updated: 30 November 2021; Ref: scu.199759