Dews v National Coal Board
House of Lords
Citations:  AC 1;  3 WLR 38;  2 All ER 545;  ICR 602;  IRLR 330;  2 FTLR 284.
The claimant was a mine-worker. He had to pay some of his earnings into an occupational pension, and the Coal Board would match his contributions. After an accident, the claimant had to take 31 weeks off work unpaid. During this time, he made no pension contributions.
The claimant sued the Coal Board for damages relating to his accident. He also claimed the contributions which he and the Coal Board would have made to his pension had he been working. The judge awarded a sum equal to his contribution, but not the matched contribution.
- Was the claimant entitled to damages for the money he would have paid into the pension had he been working?
- Was the claimant entitled to damages equal to the matched contribution which the Coal Board would have paid into the pension had he been been working?
The House of Lords held in favour of the defendant.
- The claimant was not entitled to damages reflecting the money he would have paid into the pension. He had not made any loss by not being able to pay into the pension: he’d been able to keep the money for his immediate benefit.
- The claimant was not entitled to damages for the matched contribution. This was because under the terms of the scheme the claimant had not lost any pension rights, so he had not suffered any loss.
This Case is Authority For…
Tort damages are compensatory in nature. The claimant cannot recover if he has not (or is not likely to) suffer any loss. If he has saved money because of the tort, then this benefit must be deducted from the damages.