Local Woman Wins Fight for Bereavement Damages
In a recent reported case, a local woman has won a legal fight for cohabiting (unmarried) couples to be awarded better rights should they lose their long-term partners. Smith from Chorley took the government to Court for breaching her human rights in denying her bereavement damages - read the full story here.
Under the Fatal Accidents Act 1976, a fixed sum (currently £12,980) is paid out if a person dies as a result of negligence, however, this is only awarded to spouses or civil partners.
In the claim against the Secretary of State for Justice, Smith's lawyers argued that the current legislation was in breach of Articles 8 and 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights - that she was being discriminated against because of her non-marital status and her right to respect for family life.
The Court of Appeal allowed her challenge against a High Court, ruling that there was no incompatibility between the 1976 Fatal Accidents Act and Smith's rights under the European Convention, meaning she could not have made a claim. In the Court of Appeal, that Judgment was set aside.
Ken Lees, a Solicitor at Pearson, commented, "the decision does not result in an immediate change to the law. The Law Commission has previously recommended that cohabiting couples should be eligible for bereavement damages".
"The government went as far as producing a draft bill in 2009, however, no progress was made. We can only hope that the ruling will lead to Parliament reviewing the position and changing the law to reflect modern cohabitation arrangements".
27 November - 1 December is Cohabitation Awareness Week and Pearson are supporting Resolution's campaign to Parliament to change the law - view our recent blog.
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Please note that the information and opinions contained in this article are not intended to be comprehensive, nor to provide legal advice. No responsibility for its accuracy or correctness is assumed by Pearson Solicitors and Financial Advisers Ltd or any of its members or employees. Professional legal advice should be obtained before taking, or refraining from taking, any action as a result of this article.
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