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Deborah Magill (executor of the estate of Colin Stuart Magill deceased) v Panel Systems (DB Limited) (2017) EWHC (QB)

19 October 2017

The case of Magill considered the basis for awards made under the special damages heading of “loss of partner’s care and attention”.

The facts of Magill concerned a claimant widow who brought a claim against her husband’s former employer in relation to asbestos exposure. The court ruled that the claimant’s mesothelioma had prevented heart surgery which had led to a doubling of the risk of a subsequent heart attack that caused the early death of the claimant. The court ruled that the deceased’s life expectancy had been reduced by nineteen and a half years.

Part of the claim made by the widow was a claim for loss of the partner’s “care and attention”. Such claims had succeeded previously in Regan v Williamson (1976) and Mehmet v Perry (1977) where awards were made for the “loss of personal care and attention” on the children of the deceased mother. These awards were separate to the commercial cost of providing housekeeping services, which remain recoverable.

In the recent case of Mosson v Spousal (London) Limited 2015, a financial claim had been framed in terms of “a loss of intangible benefits”. The court ruled against making such awards as they are not a proper claim in law and that such claims are already dealt with by the payment of bereavement damages where it is not necessary to prove any actual loss. The court in Magill following the reasoning in Mosson said that a claim for “loss of intangible benefits” or for “loss of love and affection” would fail to be encompassed within a bereavement award.

The case of Magill confirms the decision of Mosson in that while claims for loss of services are recoverable ancillary claims; losses which cannot be calculated such as “loss of love and affection” and “loss of intangible benefits” are not recoverable heads of claim.

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