Taylor v O’Connor: HL 1970

The appellant driver had caused a car accident in 1965, in which the respondent’s husband died. The respondent sought damages under the Fatal Accidents Acts for herself then aged 52 and for her 18 year old daughter. The husband died aged 53 and a partner in a successful firm of architects. His life expectancy on death was 18 years, and of the respondent 21 years. After tax, his income was pounds 7,500 per year up to retirement. Under the partnership deed he would have to leave some part of his income in the partnership as working capital and at the time of the death this amounted to pounds 10,000 and during the rest of his working life as a partner he would have left pounds 1,500 per year in the firm. When assessing damages the trial judge, holding that he might have continued as a full partner beyond the normal retirement age, or may have continued as a consultant, ruled that the husband would have continued to enjoy a net spendable income of pounds 6,000 per annum for the remainder of his life. The dependency of the respondent and the daughter were estimated at pounds 4,000 profit. Pounds 250 was to be deducted in respect of the accelerated benefit from the savings of pounds 10,000; tithe dependency for the purposes of the award of Damages was reckoned at pounds 3,750 per annum. The judge increased the proposed multiplier to allow for inflation. To the resulting song of pounds 45,000, the judge added pounds 9,000 as the present value of pounds 18,000, being the product of pounds 1,500 left in the firm for each of the 12 years. The Court of Appeal had refused to disturb the trial award. The driver now appealed against quantum.
Held: There were no grounds for interfering with the amount of Damages awarded by the trial judge.
Lord Morris of Borth-y-Gest, Lord Guest, Viscount Dilhorne, and Lord Pearson said that prospective inflation is not a valid reason for increasing a multiplier.
Lord Reid and lord Dilhorne said that in assessing the effect of the incidence of tax on and awarded damages, any private income of the recipient should be ignored.



Lord Morris of Borth-y-Gest, Lord Guest, Viscount Dilhorne, and Lord Pearson,


[1970] 1 All ER 365, [1971] AC 115, 114 Sol Jo 132, [1970] TR37, [1970] 2 WLR 472


England and Wales

Cited by:

CitedKnauer v Ministry of Justice SC 24-Feb-2016
The court was asked: ‘whether the current approach to assessing the financial losses suffered by the dependant of a person who is wrongfully killed properly reflects the fundamental principle of full compensation, and if it does not whether we . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Personal Injury, Damages

Updated: 16 May 2022; Ref: scu.606462