Reader and others v Molesworths Bright Clegg Solicitors: CA 2 Mar 2007

The claimants were children of the victim of a road traffic accident. The solicitors were conducting a claim on his behalf for damages, but when he died, they negligently discontinued the action.
Held: The claimants’ action as dependants of the deceased arose only on his death, and so the action of the defendants gave rise to no cause of action for the dependency. On his death the rights in the action transferred into his estate. Any action survived the death of the accident victim. A second cause of action arose on the death
Longmore LJ answered a proposition that: ‘if a settlement before death disposes of a claim, so must a settlement after death because there cannot be any logical distinction between the two situations.’ saying: ‘I do not agree, because death does make all the difference. Before death, no dependency claim can exist. Once death occurs, a dependency claim can arise and, logically, time for that claim begins to run. So it must be regarded as settled at the level of the Court of Appeal that, if before death a claim is settled or proceeds to judgment, the claim in respect of the personal injury claim is finally disposed of. Once death occurs, however, (provided that the personal injury is not finally concluded) a dependency claim can arise. It will then be a matter of construing the terms of any settlement to decide whether that settlement disposed not only of the claim of the injured person (now represented by his estate) but also of the existing dependency claim. I agree that in this case the ostensibly authorised settlement only settled the estate’s claim and not the dependency claim.’

Longmore LJ, Smith LJ, Moses LJ
Times 05-Apr-2007, [2007] EWCA Civ 169, [2007] 1 WLR 1082, [2007] 3 All ER 107
Tafal Accidents Act 1976 1
England and Wales
CitedRead v Great Eastern Railway Company QBD 25-Jun-1868
A railway passenger was injured; he sued and was awarded damages. He died later from injury on the accident.
Held: The widow could not bring an action for loss of dependency under section 1 of the 1846 Act. The cause of action was the . .
CitedGhaidan v Godin-Mendoza HL 21-Jun-2004
Same Sex Partner Entitled to tenancy Succession
The protected tenant had died. His same-sex partner sought a statutory inheritance of the tenancy.
Held: His appeal succeeded. The Fitzpatrick case referred to the position before the 1998 Act: ‘Discriminatory law undermines the rule of law . .
CitedMatthews v Ministry of Defence HL 13-Feb-2003
The claimant sought damages against the Crown, having suffered asbestosis whilst in the armed forces. He challenged the denial to him of a right of action by the 1947 Act.
Held: Human rights law did not create civil rights, but rather voided . .
CitedWilliams v Mersey Docks 1905
Where a personal injury claim becomes time-barred before the death of the injured party, his or her dependants will have no claim. . .
CitedPickett 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 . .
CitedMcCann v Sheppard CA 1973
The injured plaintiff succeeded in his action for damages for personal injury. The defendants appealed the quantum of damage but before the appeal was heard the plaintiff died. The court was now asked to reduce the award because of the death.
CitedMurray v Shuter CA 1972
The plaintiff had been badly injured and was not expected to live long. When his claim for damages was almost ready for trial, his lawyers requested an adjournment. It was not possible for a live plaintiff to claim damages for his ‘lost years’. They . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Professional Negligence

Updated: 30 November 2021; Ref: scu.249372