The Court of Appeal has upheld a judge’s decision to award lump sum damages on the basis of a lack of evidence about future earnings.
Sitting in Irani v Duchon, Lord Justice Hamblen ruled the claimant was rightly awarded damages through a single so-called Blamire award rather than by quantifying damages for loss of earnings.
The claimant had been awarded around £407,000 following a four-day trial last year after suffering injuries in an RTA. The appellants said the damages should have been more than £1.2m.
The claimant, who is from India, had come to the UK in 2010 to complete a masters degree and worked as an engineer in Yorkshire before his accident in 2013. He suffered serious leg injuries and a mixed anxiety and depressive disorder, and was made redundant in 2015.
It was common ground that the break in continuity of his employment invalidated an application for indefinite leave to remain, and Irani's Tier 2 visa is set to expire in March 2020.
Irani made his claim for residual earnings as an employee in India based on a letter from a friend outlining details of their salary, and job advertisements printed out from a website called ‘Monster-India', which Hamblen LJ noted were ‘barely intelligible or understandable’.
Hamblen LJ said High Court judge David Pittaway QC was entitled to find that evidence before him did not provide a proper basis on which to calculate future earnings.
The court heard case law stating there was no real alternative to a Blamire award if there was insufficient evidence or too many imponderables facing the judge.
Lawyers for the claimant argued the court could and should deal with uncertainties about the future by discounting the multiplier figure, rather than abandoning that conventional assessment method.
But Hamblen LJ said that faced with evidence ‘based on a letter from a friend, a snapshot of unsuitable jobs presently available from one Indian website and various assertions made by the claimant, a number of which were specifically rejected, it was not surprising’ that the judge should award a lump sum.
He added: ‘[The judge] was entitled to find that the evidence provided ‘no proper basis’ for determining a residual earnings figure.’
Hamblen LJ said the defendant was entitled to decide there was no need to cross examine the claimant on his opinion or belief as to his earnings in India. It was not accepted that the claimant’s evidence should be accepted in the absence of challenge.