Bereavement Damages – A Dis-United Kingdom

 Losing a loved one is the worst thing that could ever happen to someone. It is even worse if the death could have been avoided. 

No one wants to imagine a loved one leaving home never to return because of the negligence of another person. When the worst does happen, all any bereaved family wants is to be able to turn back the clock. Bereaved people are at their most vulnerable, without any idea how they can move on with the empty space which has been left in their lives. These people deserve our compassion and support. 

The level of compassion or the amount of support should never depend on whether the bereaved family lives in England, Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland. But it does. It is a sad reality that the way bereaved families are treated after the wrongful death of a loved one is a postcode lottery. When it comes to support for bereaved people, we live in a dis-United Kingdom. 

Of course, no life can be “valued” in monetary terms, but if a death has been caused by the negligence of another person, an award of financial compensation is the only tool a court has at its disposal to acknowledge the relatives’ loss and try to reduce the burden of that loss. In Scotland, claims for compensation for bereavement are considered on a case-by-case basis, with personal circumstances and relationships taken into consideration. This is how it should be, but it is not how bereaved people are treated in England, Wales or Northern Ireland. Instead, bereaved people in those jurisdictions are dealt with in a way which is rigid, discriminatory, and woefully out of date. 

The time for the law in England, Wales and Northern Ireland to be brought into the 21st century is long overdue. The law in Scotland has no difficulty recognising the closeness between parents, children of all ages, grandparents, siblings and other people who lived with the deceased as part of the family. In the rest of the UK it’s as if many such relationships are not important, or do not even exist. 

Read our research report here: Bereavement Damages (