The House of Lords have recently ruled that Giles Harding who was injured in an accident in Australia is entitled to have his compensation assessed by English law, which will have a dramatic affect on his final award of damages.
On 3 February 2002, Giles Harding was left paralysed from the neck down after his then girlfriend Tanya Wealands lost control of the vehicle she was driving in New South Wales, Australia. Miss Wealands, an Australian national, had moved to England in June 2001 to live with Mr. Harding and the couple were in Australia visiting her parents when the accident occurred. Proceedings were commenced in the High Court in London and after several rounds of preliminary disputes, the English courts accepted jurisdiction and liability was admitted on behalf of Miss Wealands by her insurers.
The insurers, however, contested the level of damages sought and argued that New South Wales law should apply, which would have led to a reduction in the level of damages of about 30%. On 27 May 2004 Mr. Justice Elias, sitting in the High Court, found that the damages should be assessed in accordance with English law. The insurers appealed and the Court of Appeal reversed the initial finding and stated that damages would be assessed in accordance with the law of New South Wales. In a unanimous decision The House of Lords allowed Mr Harding’s appeal and restored the Order of Mr. Justice Elias that the damages assessment should be in accordance with English law.
Mr Harding’s solicitor Julian Chamberlayne, Partner and Head of the International Injury department at Stewarts, said: “This Judgment is of huge importance to Giles Harding, who was facing a reduction in his damages award of over £1.25 million under various caps and restrictions imposed by the laws of New South Wales. This would have left him unable to fund essential aspects of his long-term needs, such as his care package.”
Mr. Harding commented:
“I’m delighted with the judgment. This is an awful situation and it was of grave concern that I may not receive the full amount of damages to which I was entitled. This would have left me unable to pay for much of the care and equipment I now need as a result of my paralysis. I would like to thank Julian, my solicitor, for all his hard work and persistence in my case.”
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