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LAWS ON BEREAVEMENT “WOEFULLY” OUT OF DATE

A new report published today (28 April) reveals the Government is on the wrong side of popular opinion on compensation for bereaved families.

“There is a postcode lottery when someone is wrongfully killed in the UK. Only a very rigid, prescribed list of relatives qualify for statutory compensation for their untimely loss in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland,” explained Sam Elsby, president of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) a not-for-profit campaign group behind the report Bereavement damages: A dis-United Kingdom.

“Unmarried fathers are ignored by the law if their child is killed, for example” he explained. “Step-parents, parents of adults, brothers, and sisters are also left out. Unmarried partners must have lived together for two years before they qualify for bereavement damages,” he went on.

“The law fails to recognise that people who are single and do not have children are still loved, missed, and grieved for by other relatives. It is woefully discriminatory and out-of-date,” said Mr Elsby.

“England, Wales, and Northern Ireland are trailing behind Scotland on this issue, where the law has no difficulty in recognising the closeness of different relationships.

“The time for reform to drag the rest of the UK into the 21st century is long overdue but ministers continue to resist change,” said Mr Elsby.

Publication of Bereavement damages: A dis-United Kingdom follows a recent increase in support for reform, including from the UK Parliament’s Joint Committee on Human Rights.

Research carried out by YouGov found that:

  • 85 per cent of British adults think a father should still receive compensation, even if he was not married to the mother of his child.
  • 69 per cent of British adults think the fixed statutory sum of bereavement damages in England and Wales (£15,120) is too little compensation.
  • 73 per cent of British adults think the amount of compensation for grief and trauma should vary according to the circumstances of each case