Cook v JL Kier and Co [1970] 1 WLR 774

DUTY OF CARE– QUANTIFICATION OF DAMAGES

Facts

The claimant was a foreman who suffered severe brain damage when a spanner was dropped on to his head from a height whilst he was working at a site occupied by the defendant company. As a result of this, he suffered various personal injuries including sensory impairment, sexual impotence, multiple physical impairments, and a heightened risk of developing epilepsy in the future. The defendant admitted liability and the claimant was awarded damages for his loss of future earnings for a period of eight years, and an additional award of £3,000 for pain, suffering, and loss of amenity. The claimant appealed, arguing that the quantum of damages was too low.

Issue

The issue was whether the award of damages should take account of the claimant’s sexual impotence. A further issue was whether it was appropriate to award loss of earnings for only eight years given that the claimant was only 41 at the time of the trial.

Held

The court held that the multiplier of eight years for loss of future earnings was inadequate where the claimant was aged 41. This was increased to a multiplier of 10 years and the sum of damages for loss of future earnings was increased accordingly. Further, it was held that the award of £3,000 for loss of amenities was too low and increased this figure to £7,000. In particular, this increase was to reflect the sexual impotence which also affected the claimant’s wife (who could not claim damages in her own right for loss of consortium).