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Rix v Paramount Shopfitting Ltd

Rix v Paramount Shopfitting Co Ltd and the effect on dependency claims

Will Young looks at quantification of dependency claims under the Fatal Accidents Act after a mesothelioma case, Rix v Paramount Shopfitting Co Ltd, is heard in the Court of Appeal.

The Deceased in this case, Mr Rix, was exposed to asbestos by the Defendant in the 1970s. He developed mesothelioma and died in 2016 aged 60. His widow brought a claim against the Defendant under the FAA for damages including a claim for loss of financial dependency.


The background

In the High Court, the Defendant had argued that there was no loss of dependency as the Claimant had inherited the business, which remained profitable after Mr Rix’s death (indeed it had become more so). Hence it was said that there was no loss under section 3 of the FAA. The judge (Cavanagh J), however, decided that the Claimant had in fact suffered a loss of dependency on the profits from the business.

The appeal

The Defendant appealed, on three grounds:

  1. At least part of the profits from the business amounted to income generated by capital (as opposed to being earned by Mr Rix’s efforts). Since the assets of the business had been inherited by the Claimant, profits that were generated by them could not form part of the dependency.
  2. It was an error of law to treat the income actually received by the Claimant from the business before Mr Rix’s death as being entirely Mr Rix’s income, rather than hers.
  3. It was necessary in assessing the net annual loss and applying the Coward formula, to deduct the Claimant’s share of the profits of the company and her director’s salary.

The Court of Appeal considered the existing authorities on the assessment of financial dependency under the FAA when it arises from the loss of profits from a business, as distinct from the more straightforward situation involving dependency on salary. Having reviewed the relevant authorities, the decision by the Court of Appeal sets out some principles applicable to such dependency claims under the Fatal Accidents Act (“the FAA”), which applies in many mesothelioma cases, confirming a position that is broadly favourable to Claimants.

The full analysis

Read Will’s analysis on Rix v Paramount Shopfitting Company Ltd here.

Read the judgment here.

Find Out More

Will Young‘s practice has a particularly focus on personal injury claims, with him acting for both Claimants and Defendants, although more often for Claimants. His cases involve a wide range of such claims, including road traffic accidents, claims under the Occupiers Liability Act, and the Fatal Accidents Act, as well as employers’ liability claims (including stress-at-work claims) and cross-border personal injury claims. 

To find out more, contact Will directly of contact his practice management team; Paul Barton on +44 (0)20 7427 4907 or Ben Fitzgerald on +44 (0)20 3758 4759 for a confidential discussion.

Personal Injury, Personal Injury 13 Dec, 2021

Authors

Will Young

Call: 2008

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