Hayden v Hayden
Court of Appeal
Citations:  1 WLR 986;  4 All ER 681;  2 FLR 16;  PIQR Q111;  Fam Law 466;  CLY 1395.
The claimant was initially raised by her mother and father. However, when she was 4 years old, her father negligently killed her mother in a road accident. Her father subsequently gave up his job to care for her full-time on his own. The claimant sued her father as a dependant under the Fatal Accidents Act 1976. One of the damages claimed was the loss of her mother’s caring services. The claimant calculated this by reference to the cost of a commercial nanny working full-time.
The father denied that they should pay this head of damage. He argued that the court should make a deduction for the care he provided the claimant after her mother’s death. The claimant responded to this by relying on s.4 of the Act, which states that:
‘In assessing damages in respect of a person’s death in an action under this Act, benefits which have accrued or may accrue to any person from his estate or otherwise as a result of his death shall be disregarded’ (s.4).
The claimant argued that the father’s replacement caring services were a ‘benefit’ within the meaning of the Act, and so should be disregarded.
- When can a dependant sue for lost caring services?
- Are services provided by the defendant to replace lost services from the deceased a benefit resulting from the deceased’s death within the meaning of s.4 of the Fatal Accidents Act?
The Court of Appeal held that the caring services the father provided to replace the mother’s services were not a benefit resulting from the mother’s death. The father did not care for the claimant because of her mother’s death, but rather as part of his normal, ongoing parental duties. In light of that, damages for lost caring services were inappropriate.
This Case is Authority For…
The continued provision of ongoing caring services which began prior to the deceased’s death do not count as a benefit resulting from that death. It therefore should not be disregarded under s.4. It appears that this is also the case where someone with an obligation to care for the claimant increases the level of care they provide after the death.
The court noted that damages for lost caring services should not be assessed by reference to the cost of hiring a nanny when on the facts there is no chance of a nanny being employed.
Parker LJ opined that Stanley v Saddique (Mohammed)  QB 1 may be wrongly decided. In that case, the deceased mother’s care had been substandard, and the claimant’s stepmother provided superior replacement services. The stepmother previously had no obligation to care for the child. The court held that the stepmother’s services were a benefit resulting from the mother’s death. Though Stanley is distinguishable from the present case, Parker LJ found it objectionable. He reasoned that the Stanley approach could lead to a claimant recovering for caring services they had not actually lost.
McCowan LJ dissented from the other judges on the meaning of s.4. He thought that the established principles from the case-law (particularly Stanley v Saddique (Mohammed)  QB 1) barred the court from reducing the damages to take into account replacement caring services provided by the defendant.