High Court Balances Liability and Compensation in FLR v Dr. Shanthi Chandran Personal Injury Case

Citation: [2024] EWHC 24 (KB)
Judgment on

Introduction

In the matter of FLR v Dr Shanthi Chandran, the High Court of Justice, King’s Bench Division, dealt with a complicated personal injury claim involving a minor. The judgment touches upon key legal concepts surrounding personal injury litigation, particularly where it involves children or protected parties, liability, and the apportionment of damages. Deputy High Court Judge Dexter Dias KC presided over the case, providing a nuanced analysis that balanced justice, compensation, and the welfare of the claimant.

Key Facts

The case originated from a road traffic accident that occurred on 15 January 2018, prominently involving a 12-year-old claimant known as FLR and the defendant, Dr. Shanthi Chandran. The claimant sustained a head injury and a left collarbone fracture due to being struck by the defendant’s vehicle at a pedestrian crossing under adverse weather conditions. At trial, issues of negligence and contributory negligence were central, culminating in an apportionment of liability at 60/40 in favor of the claimant.

Several legal principles were significant in the resolution of FLR v Dr. Shanthi Chandran:

  1. Child Claimant and Court Approval: Pursuant to CPR 21.2(1) and 21.10(1), the court required to approve any settlement involving a child or protected party to validate the compromise, ensuring it is in the best interests of the claimant. This requirement safeguards against inadequate settlements that might not fully consider the protected person’s interest.

  2. Liability Apportionment: The court, after evaluating the evidence, apportioned liability on a 60/40 basis. This reflects the principle that even when a defendant is found negligent, the claimant’s actions (such as stepping onto the road with the light against her) can contribute to the accident and thus reduce the compensation receivable.

  3. Best Interests and Dunhill Propriety Check: In determining whether to approve a settlement, the court must ensure it is consistent with the best interests of the claimant following the guidance provided by Lady Hale in Dunhill v Burgin [2014] UKSC 18. The ‘propriety check’ acts as a judicial safeguard against settlements that may not be adequate or appropriate.

  4. Privacy and Anonymity Order: Weighing the claimant’s right to privacy (Article 8 ECHR) against the public’s right to information (Article 10 ECHR), the court granted an anonymity order to protect the claimant, aligning with JX MX v Dartford and Gravesham NHS Trust [2015] EWCA Civ 96. This illustrates the court’s obligation to strike a balance between open justice and individual privacy.

  5. Compensation Recovery: Consideration for the defendant’s liability under the Social Security (Recovery of Benefits) Act 1997 to the Compensation Recovery Unit was reported as nil, which is a standard assessment in personal injury matters to ensure statutory obligations are met.

Outcomes

The court thoroughly reviewed the proposed settlement—which had been reached post-trial—and considered expert opinions and legal representations from both sides before making its determination. The settlement terms were not disclosed, but the court found them to be pursuant to the best interests of the claimant. Thereby, Judge Dias KC approved the settlement according to CPR 21.10.

Conclusion

Through the case of FLR v Dr. Shanthi Chandran, the High Court demonstrated the careful scrutiny and robust legal framework that governs personal injury claims involving minors. The judgment emphasized the importance of court scrutiny in settlements, rightfully balancing the interests of justice with the welfare of the claimant. Judge Dias KC, considering all facets of the case, including the future well-being of the claimant, underscored the limitations of financial compensation while fulfilling the court’s role in delivering justice to the extent possible within the legal context. The case serves as a quintessential example of the complex interplay between individual rights, judicial oversight, and the principles underpinning the settlement of claims involving protected parties.

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