By: 1 September 2016
Tasmanian court sets precedent as it applies UK ruling on future care costs

An Australian court has applied the Court of Appeal 2009 decision in Peters v East Midlands SHA in order to award almost £7 million to a UK citizen who was injured in a quad bike accident in Tasmania.

The judge in Raper v Bowden ruled that Peters v East Midlands SHA should be applied in an assessment of future care costs, prompting Peter Rigby of Fletchers Solicitors to suggest that the ruling could set a precedent for UK citizens trying to claim future care costs in overseas territories.

The case involved Holly Raper, a 24 year old British backpacker, who was employed on a dairy farm on King Island owned and operated by David and Jocelyn Bowden. Raper suffered serious head and facial injuries after falling from a quad bike.

She does not have functional movement in any of her limbs, is confined to her bed or a wheelchair and requires 24 hours a day attendant care.

The Bowdens were found liable for not properly training her to ride the quad bike and for permitting her to ride without wearing a safety helmet.

In his judgement, Escourt J noted that privately funded care would have significant advantages over publically funded care for the claimant. He also noted that the claimant’s parents had already showed a clear preference and commitment to providing privately funded care for their daughter.

It is beyond argument that the availability of NHS benefits is not to be brought into account in diminution of the plaintiff’s damages for future care,” said the judge.

The right to ‘self-fund’ was expressly acknowledged by the Court of Appeal of England and Wales in the Peters case.”

Rigby, who has been supporting the Raper family in the UK since 2012, said: “The judgement in Peters v East Midlands SHA helped resolve a long running issue of a claimant’s right to pursue a defendant for the costs of future care, even if those costs could be reasonably obtained from publically-funded support.”

“For this principle to be applied by an overseas court to a case involving a UK citizen, it suggests that this is the correct way for quantum to be assessed for injured parties resident in England and Wales, even when their accident occurred outside the jurisdiction where the facts of the case fit the Peters precedent.”