Thursday, July 28th, 2016

The Status of Guidance on Quantum for the Jury in Civil Trials

In Caroline Bridges v.Alpha Insurance A/S [2016] CSOH 114, a civil jury trial concerning a pedestrian road traffic accident, Lord Tyre has issued a Note, explaining his approach to guidance for the jury on quantum, following the practice directed by the Inner House in Hamilton v.Ferguson Transport (Spean Bridge) Ltd 2012 SC 486.

At the close of evidence, Lord Tyre invited counsel to address him on the appropriate range for solatium. Counsel for the pursuer submitted that the guidance to the jury should be of the widest possible range, the top level being twice the highest JSC Guideline that could be argued to be applicable. Counsel for the defenders relied on a muchnarrower range. In his direction to the Jury, Lord Tyre gave them guidance that previous cases and the JSC Guidelines provided solatium in the range of £25,000 to £40,000.

About an hour after the jury retired, counsel for the pursuer sought to lodge a Note of Exception to the range given by Lord Tyre in his direction. Lord Tyre refused to record and certify the Note on the basis that it had not been given immediately on conclusion of his directions to the jury.

Of some significance to practitioners, Lord Tyre also heldthat the proposed exception did not relate to a direction on a point of law. The guidance given to the jury was non-binding and was a spectrum for their assistance only.

In the event, the jury awarded solatium of £32,500 with a finding of 85% contributory negligence. The pursuer failed to beat the tender of £15,000.

The successful defenders were represented by Craig Murray, of Compass Chambers

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