15th edition of the Judicial College Guidelines published
1st December 2019
The 15th edition of the Judicial College Guidelines for the assessment of damages in personal injury cases was published on 26th November 2019. Personal injury barrister, David Forster looks at what changes have been made since the 14th edition?
A quick comparison between the two editions does not reveal any major changes to the form or structure of the guidelines, there are however a couple of adjustments to the existing chapters and brackets:
- In Chapter 6 – injuries to internal organs, a new bracket has been created under (I) bowels; (c) faecal urgency and passive incontinence persisting after surgery and causing embarrassment and distress, typically following injury giving birth. The suggested range of damages for such an injury is “in the region of £75,000”.
- This new bracket sits above the former (c) (now (d)): Severe abdominal injury causing impairment of function and often necessitating temporary colostomy (leaving disfiguring scars) and/or restriction on employment and on diet – £41,850 to £65,440
- In Chapter 7 – orthopaedic injuries (I) hand injuries, the former brackets (h) minor hand injuries, (t) minor finger injuries and (z) minor thumb injuries have been consolidated into one bracket in the 15th edition, (v) minor hand, finger and thumb injuries. The suggested range of damages for this bracket is “up to £4,461”. It is noteworthy that in the 14th edition minor finger injuries had a higher upper value (£4160) than minor hand injuries (£3810), with both being higher than the upper limit for minor thumb injuries (£3460).
- The bracket (I) hand Injuries (aa) trivial thumb injuries “up to £1930” in the 14th edition of the guidelines has been dropped in the 15th edition. Presumably as such injuries can be dealt with under Chapter 13 minor injuries.
The other major change between the 14th edition and the 15th edition of the Judicial College Guidelines is an across the board increase in the suggested range of damages by approximately 7%. This increase is slightly above the rate of inflation in the period since the 14th edition was published, which was approximately 5.7% (1). Claimants and defendants will need to be mindful that settlement offers made for general damages under the 14th edition of the Judicial College Guidelines have effectively been reduced by the introduction of the 15th edition. In particular, defendants in Stage 3 hearings under the Pre-Action Protocol for low value personal injury claims in road traffic accidents should review the protocol offers made by claimants as such offers now have increased chances of being beaten or matched and bringing Part 36 consequences to bear.