The States Assembly has today approved the draft Damages Law, which allows for changes to the way damages payments are assessed and awarded to those who suffer injuries that require long-term care.
If someone suffers an injury and cannot work again, they can claim for lost future income. If their injuries mean they need care and treatment in the future, the damages awarded should cover that.
Jersey’s courts have generally adopted English common law that says the claimant should receive full compensation for any loss suffered, not a penny more but not a penny less.
The difficulty in awarding damages is that it is impossible to know exactly how much the claimant will need. Working-years can be predicted with reasonable accuracy to determine lost earnings, but life expectancy and future care costs are harder to predict.
The new law sets a statutory discount rate, which is used when determining damages that are awarded as a single lump sum. This rate takes into account the predicted effect of inflation and investment return on the figure awarded.
The law will also allow the court to pay damages through Periodical Payment Orders. This means payments can be made annually to cover care costs and lost earnings as they arise, rather than by making a single lump sum payment. This avoids the need to estimate life expectancy and to speculate on investment returns, and also eliminates the possibility that damages will run out before the claimant dies.
Chief Minister, Senator John le Fondré, said “I am pleased this law has been approved by the States Assembly. On becoming Chief Minister I was absolutely committed to ensuring this critical legislation was delivered in the shortest possible timeframe.
“It will now provide a sound basis for setting a discount rate and for allowing periodic payment orders. We have acted in the public interest to reduce risk and uncertainty, while continuing to safeguard the needs of people who have suffered injury, by ensuring they receive full compensation.”
The Law allows the Chief Minister to change the discount rate by Order, after consulting the Bailiff.
States of Jersey Press Release.