HC Deb 20 June 1938 vol 337 cc701-2
59. Sir William Davison

asked the Attorney-General whether he is aware of the serious difficulties which are frequently arising in the courts in relation to claims on behalf of the estates of deceased persons on the grounds of expectation of life under Section 1 of the Law Reform (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1934; whether his attention has been drawn to the remarks of Mr. Justice Charles, in giving judgment in the case of Bailey v. Howard, when he affirmed that under the above Act juries had the duty imposed upon them of solving a problem which it was impossible for them accurately to determine, there being no guide whereby damages might be assessed, and any assessment arrived at being only guesswork as to what expectation of life in the particular case might be; and what action the Government propose to take in this matter?

The Solicitor-General

I am aware that result of the Law Reform (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1934, referred to in the question is regarded by some as creating difficulties in its application. It is not proposed to take action in this matter but the working of this and other recent Law Reform Acts is kept under review.

Sir W. Davison

Does not my hon. and learned Friend think it desirable that Parliament should take immediate action in regard to a Statute where juries assess damages in similar cases varying from a few pounds in one case to many thousands of pounds in another and where a judge has said that there was no guide whatever as to the method of assessment given in the Statute?

The Solicitor-General

This is not the only kind of instance where juries give different decisions in different cases which are somewhat parallel; and as regards the last part of the question of my hon. Friend, the instance that he gives is at the present moment under appeal, and he will, therefore, appreciate the undesirability of saying anything about it.