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Bereavement Damages Claims – As of May 2020 now includes co-habitating partners

The English system for compensation for injuries and death dates back to the dark ages, if not beyond.

The Saxons had a code known as “Weregild”, literally man price, with a tariff of awards for a long list of injuries.

Death was also covered by the tariff whether caused deliberately or accidentally.

The awards for death varied according to the social status of the deceased and so, for example, in the ninth century the award payable in relation to the death of a freeman was 200 shillings.

Awards for the death of a woman were half that for a man and, for some reason, awards for the death of a Welshman were somewhat lower than the standard.

The aim of the Weregild was prevent blood feuds at a time when the system for maintaining law and order was primitive.


Over the years, our system for awarding compensation in fatal accident cases has become much more sophisticated but still discriminatory.

Under the Fatal Accidents Act 1976, a wide range of relatives can claim compensation for the loss of the deceased’s earnings and the value of the services they provided, for example DIY or care, and various formulas have been adopted to make the necessary calculations.

Valuing a life itself, as opposed to the financial loss caused by death, has proved more controversial.

The concept of bereavement damages was introduced by the Fatal Accidents Act.

This provided for a token award to be made which has been increased periodically.

Up until 1 May 2020, the award stood at £12,980.00 and it had not been increased for seven years.

Awards in other countries were more generous.

For example, the award in Northern Ireland was fixed at £15,100.00.

In Scotland, bereavement awards are calculated on a case by case basis, with no fixed maximum, depending on the circumstances of the relationship.

Awards often exceed £100,000.00.

In England, the class of Claimants who can seek bereavement damages is also restricted to: –

  • A spouse or civil partner of the deceased.
  • The parents of a child, the mother only in the case of an illegitimate child.


Changes to bereavement damages have now been introduced in relation to deaths occurring on or after 1 May 2020.

Firstly, the award has been increased to £15,120.00.

Furthermore, a co-habiting partner who has lived with the deceased for at least two years prior to the death can also now claim.

Claimant’s lawyers had pressed for the range of eligible Claimants to be extended still further to cover, for example, children and siblings but the Government would not go that far.


Your friendly & local Personal Injury Law team offers an initial consultation to hear your story, understand what happened, it’s effect on your life and help determine if you have grounds for a successful claim.

We will take all the financial risk and represent you on a No Win, No Fee basis – so it won’t cost you any money throughout the process of filing your claim, and if you don’t win you won’t owe us a penny.

Speak to a member of our team today on 01623468468 or 0115 910 5555 or use the enquiry form below.

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