The Effect of Rising Inflation on General Damages Awards

31st July 2023

The Judicial Studies (JC) Guidelines separate injury types and give a monetary bracket as to how each should be valued depending on the length and severity of the injuries.

The guidelines are published periodically and every new edition is adjusted to take the retail price index (RPI) into account. The introduction of the current (16th) edition of the Judicial Studies Guidelines states that the figures consider the 6.5% general increase in the Retail Price Index since the last edition.

In the case of Blair v Jaber (2023) however, the issue before the court was the valuation of an injury, the current rate of inflation and the effect on the guidelines.

Mr Blair suffered an injury as a result of a road traffic accident in October 2020. The claim was issued and proceeded to a court hearing on 8 March 2023. At the hearing, the judge noted that the current guidelines were published on 11 April 2022, nearly a year before and that “since then we have had inflation such as has not been seen since the 1970’s."

The Office of National Statistics figure for January 2023 showed the RPI at 13.4% per annum. Counsel for the defendant argued that this was a matter for the Judicial College but the judge disagreed and pointed out that the guidelines are just that and that the guideline figures needed to be increased by about 12%.