Decisions in which the court considers the level of damages in fatal cases are relatively rare, so the decision in Manson v Henry Robb Ltd 2017 SLT 1173 is of interest. Lord Clark considered claims for damages under s 4(3)(b) of the Damages (Scotland) Act 2011 (along with claims for loss of services), made by the adult sons (aged 59 and 55 at proof) and widow (aged 79) of a former employee of the defenders, who died aged 81 around 10 months after being diagnosed with mesothelioma.
Lord Clark commented that each claim must be determined on the particular and peculiar facts of the case and there was no room for a “tariff system”. There were two sets of significant factors here, the first being the extremely close and longstanding family relationship and how that operated in practice. The second set comprised the deceased’s already advanced age; his short life expectancy; and the age of the pursuers.
Lord Clark stated that there ought to be “some significant differentiation in quantification” where the deceased’s life expectancy had been limited and the pursuers were older and therefore would have had a limited time left with the deceased in any event (para 29). While he also took into account the pursuers’ distress in seeing the deceased’s condition deteriorate, he noted that this had lasted for a relatively short period of time. He awarded £75,000 to the deceased’s widow, with two thirds allocated to the past, and £30,000 each to his two sons, with one half allocated to the past.