Roerig v Valiant Trawlers Ltd: CA 28 Jan 2002

The claimant who was Dutch, was a widow of a fisherman who had died at sea. The question on appeal was ‘in assessing damages for loss of dependency should benefits resulting from the loss be deducted from the damages?’ The claimant’s position under Dutch law was different, with all benefits deducted from any compensation awarded.
Held: The accident occurred on an English registered trawler, and the applicable law was English as to liability but possibly Dutch as to damages. If the 1976 Act was procedural rather than substantive, the law applicable would be English, and the Dutch law as to deduction of all benefits would not apply. Traditionally, issues as to the quantification of damages have been seen as procedural rather than substantive. The general structure of the Act also suggested that it was intended to offer English remedies, and those should be applied: ‘the general rule is not to be dislodged easily’.
After referring to the case of Boys v Chaplin, Waller LJ said: ‘The passages referred to support the view that so far as damages are concerned it is a question for the substantive law whether a head of damage is recoverable, but quantification of the actual head is procedural. If one poses the question whether the issue in this case is about the right to recover certain benefits or whether it is about the quantification of the damages for loss of dependency the answer seems to me to be that it is about the quantification of the damages. The concern of the court in considering a tortious claim should be as to liability, including liability for particular heads of damage without the existence of which liability might not be complete. The question whether deductions should be made for benefits is not a question which goes to liability: it is a question going to assessment’ and ‘Procedurally an action on behalf of a person killed in an accident is only available in the English courts by virtue of what is now sections 1 and 2 of the 1976 Act . . As I have already said, we are concerned with an action which can only be brought in this country by virtue of the 1976 Act.’


Lord Justice Simon Brown Vice-President Of The Court Of Appeal Civil Division, Lord Justice Waller, Lord Justice Sedley


[2002] All ER (D) 234, [2002] EWCA Civ 21, [2002] 1 WLR 2304




Fatal Accidents Act 1976 4, Private International Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1995 11, Merchant Shipping Act 1995 25


England and Wales


CitedCoupland v Arabian Gulf Oil Co QBD 1983
The plaintiff employee, injured whilst working for the defendant in Libya, sued in contract and tort. The judge held that Libyan law was the proper law of the contract, but that this was of no relevance to the claim in tort which could proceed here . .
ApprovedStevens v Head 18-Mar-1993
(High Court of Australia) The court considered a claim for damages arising out of a motor accident in New South Wales, where the claim had been brought in the courts of Queensland. The questions arose as to whether or not a provision in the Motor . .
CitedBoys v Chaplin HL 1969
The plaintiff sued in England for a traffic accident which had happened in Malta. The law of Malta would have denied certain elements of damages which would be available in this jurisdiction.
Held: Liability in respect of the road accident in . .
CitedEdmunds v Simmonds QBD 4-Oct-2000
The claimant suffered damages in a road traffic accident in Spain caused by the respondent. A Spanish court would have allowed much lower damages. Such damages should normally be assessed in accordance with the law of the country where the accident . .
CitedCaltex Singapore Pte Ltd v BP Shipping Ltd 1996
A provision of Singapore law giving a ship-owner the right to limit his liability for damage resulting from a collision in Singapore was procedural, or at least not substantive. The limitation in question did not qualify the right of the claimants . .
CitedBreavington v Godleman 18-Aug-1988
Austlii (High Court of Australia) – Private International Law – Tort – Negligence – Act committed in Territory – Personal injury – Territory statute imposing limit on amount of damages – Action in State court – . .
CitedBreavington v Godleman 18-Aug-1988
Austlii (High Court of Australia) – Private International Law – Tort – Negligence – Act committed in Territory – Personal injury – Territory statute imposing limit on amount of damages – Action in State court – . .
CitedThe Esso Malaysia 1974
A Russian seaman died as the result of a collision in international waters between two foreign registered vessels. His family sought to claim here.
Held: The benefit of the Fatal Accidents Acts can, in principle, be claimed by a foreigner. The . .
CitedWhite v Brunton CA 1984
A judgment given upon a trial of a preliminary issue was held to be a final judgment for the purpose of deciding whether leave to appeal was required on the ground that it could be treated as the first part of a final hearing. Sir John Donaldson MR . .
CitedHolmes v Bangladesh Binan Corporation 1988
An appeal was sought from a judge’s order deciding a preliminary issue of law. The claimant sought damages under the Fatal Accidents Act case.
Held: Bingham LJ said: ‘Order 33, r. 3 gives the Court a wide discretion to order the separate trial . .
CitedTanfern Ltd v Cameron-MacDonald, Cameron-MacDonald CA 12-May-2000
The court gave detailed guidance on the application of the new procedures on civil appeals in private law cases introduced on May 2. Appeals from a County Court District Judge’s final decision in a multi-track case could now go straight to the Court . .

Cited by:

CitedHarding v Wealands CA 17-Dec-2004
The claimant sought damages here for a road traffic accident which had occurred in Australia. The defendant was working in England. The defendant argued that the law of New South Wales applied.
Held: The general rule in section 11 was not to . .
CitedAl-Jedda v Secretary of State for Defence CA 29-Mar-2006
The applicant had dual Iraqi and British nationality. He was detained by British Forces in Iraq under suspicion of terrorism, and interned.
Held: His appeal failed. The UN resolution took priority over the European Convention on Human Rights . .
CitedHarding v Wealands HL 5-Jul-2006
Claim in UK for Accident in Australia
The claimant had been a passenger in a car driven by his now partner. They had an accident in New South Wales. The car was insured in Australia. He sought leave to sue in England and Wales because Australian law would limit the damages.
Held: . .
CitedIn the Matter of T and N Limited and others ChD 12-Apr-2006
. .
CitedBristow Helicopters Ltd and Another v Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation (Incorporated In and Under Laws of Delaware USA) and others ComC 5-Mar-2004
. .
CitedWelsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust and Another v Williams CA 15-Feb-2008
The court considered the essential philosophy underwriting the 1976 Act. Smith LJ said: ‘nothing that a dependant (or for that matter anyone else) could do after death could either increase or decrease the dependency. The dependency is fixed at the . .
CitedSaldanha v Fulton Navigation Inc AdCt 10-May-2011
. .
CitedCox v Ergo Versicherung Ag CA 25-Jun-2012
The deceased member of the armed forces had died in a road traffic accident in Germany. The parties didputed whether the principles governing the calculation of damages were those in the 1976 Act and UK law, or under German law.
Held: ‘There . .
CitedVTB Capital Plc v Nutritek International Corp and Others SC 6-Feb-2013
The claimant bank said that it had been induced to create very substantial lending facilities by fraudulent misrepresentation by the defendants. They now appealed against findings that England was not clearly or distinctly the appropriate forum for . .
CitedCox v Ergo Versicherung Ag and Another QBD 28-Oct-2011
The deceased died in a road traffic accident whilst serving in the Armed forces in Germany. The driver was insured under German law. The widow now claimed damages in England. She had entered a new relationship.
Held: The object of section 844 . .
CitedCox v Ergo Versicherung Ag SC 2-Apr-2014
The deceased army officer serving in Germany died while cycling when hit by a driver insured under German law. His widow, the claimant, being domiciled in England brought her action here, claiming for bereavement and loss of dependency. The Court . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Damages, Personal Injury, International

Updated: 05 June 2022; Ref: scu.167900