At the conclusion of an 11-hour mediation on 10th February 2011 Stewarts achieved settlement of one of the highest value, most complex fatal accident claims ever reported.
The agreed damages were £5.525 million; an unusually high figure given that the deceased was almost 57 when he died.
It was alleged by the defendant that the deceased had contributed in part to his own injuries by failing to fasten his motorbike helmet chin strap properly, however Stewarts commissioned expert evidence from leading reconstruction and medical experts who provided strong evidence that these allegations were unfounded.
Stewarts took the case over from another firm of solicitors in 2008 when the claim was focused almost entirely on the deceased’s earnings as a senior member of a professional firm. However, the Defendants were able to argue that the prescribed retirement age in the deceased’s partnership was 60 and profits were reduced by the recession. We subsequently developed what was to become an important additional strand to the case. The evidence of friends and colleagues pointed to a probability that by 2010 he would have left his professional practice and either taken a position as partner in a private equity firm, or one or more other well paid real estate executive position(s), working through to age 75. The dependency claim was advanced on an inheritance basis for both the widow and adult daughter, at a higher percentage than is usually applied in fatal accident claims. Stewarts obtained impressive evidence from experts in these sectors, and the settlement at £5.525 million, reflected the real chance of these higher property sector earnings being achieved.
The deceased was also a talented property investor and developer both in his own right and in partnership with others. He had little conventional pension and was relying on development of his property portfolio for the long term financial security of his family. Evidence from an expert surveyor was obtained to put a value on the time he devoted to his own property portfolio, which added considerably to the compensation recovered.
Frank Burton QC, leading counsel for the claimants, said:
“This case was a classic example of where care in the preparation of witness statements and expert evidence made a very substantial difference to the outcome, probably doubling the value of the claim, and is a great credit to Julian Chamberlayne and his team.”
A close family friend of the claimants and former colleague of the deceased, who had provided support to the family through the litigation, said:
“A huge thank you to you [Julian Chamberlayne], your team, Frank Burton QC and Robert Weir QC for your consummate professionalism, sensitive support and sheer indefatigability and achieving this great result for the family. It has been a long haul but worth it. I rest easier thinking that, if [the deceased] is looking down on us, even he would be pleased with the result.”
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