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Court of Appeal hears discrimination challenge to the bereavement damages regime

DATE: 13 Nov 2017

The Court of Appeal (the Master of the Rolls, McCombe LJ and Sir Patrick Elias) heard argument on 7 November 2017 in Smith v. Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, a challenge to the regime of bereavement damages under section 1A of the Fatal Accidents Act 1976 ("FAA 1976"). The Appellant is the surviving opposite-sex cohabiting, unmarried partner of a man who died following the admitted negligence of the first two defendants. Because the Appellant was not married to him and could not enter a civil partnership with him, she was not eligible for bereavement damages under the FAA 1976. She claimed this was a breach of her rights under Article 14, read with Article 8, of the European Convention on Human Rights. The Secretary of State for Justice was joined as a third defendant to defend this part of the claim, the remaining parts having been settled by the first two defendants. The claim failed at first instance before Eadis J: [2017] PIQR P4. Judgment is awaited from the Court of Appeal. 

David Blundell represented the third defendant, the Secretary of State for Justice.