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Williams v Green, Court of Appeal

14 December 2001
The issues

Future loss of earnings – chance of promotion – pre-existing condition.

The facts

Defendant appealed from the decision of the Recorder awarding the Claimant inter alia £163,000.00 for future loss of earnings. At the date of the Trial the Claimant was a Deputy Head Teacher. She would however have to take early retirement on the grounds of ill health and would not gain promotion to the post of Head Teacher.

She had sought promotion before the accident. Evidence had been given at Trial in support of her contention that she would have been appointed to the post of Head Teacher by 2003. The Judge concluded that she would have continued as a Teacher despite her pre-existing condition and would have been appointed Head Teacher in 2003.

The Defendant appealed on the basis that this was the wrong approach.

The decision

1. There was no dispute between the parties that the Claimant’s future earnings should be assessed on the basis that she would have been appointed Head Teacher in 2003.

2. The Judge had taken into account her pre-existing back problems in concluding that she would have become Head Teacher by that date. However, he treated it as a certainty. This was not the correct approach on the evidence.

3. The assessment fell between the different arguments from the parties. The Claimant sought to support the Judge’s 100% assessment. The Defendant argued that 20% was more appropriate on the evidence. Before taking into account all the relevant matters relating to her pre-accident back problems the 100% loss of earnings applied by the Judge would be substituted by 60%. [She had suffered from back problems before but had never been incapacitated by them].

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