Landmark victory on compensation

Press Release : March 18, 2016
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Brigitte Chandler, partner and industrial disease specialist at Charles Lucas & Marshall in Swindon.

Why is she in the news? Acted for Ian Knauer, whose wife Sally, a former administration assistant at a Dorset prison, died aged 46 from mesothelioma in 2009. In Knauer v Ministry of Justice, Ian Knauer appealed a ruling that the annual figure for the value of lost income and services (the multiplicand) should be calculated from the date of her death.
He argued that the figure should be calculated from the date of trial – making a difference of almost £53,000 in compensation. The Supreme Court ruled that the family was undercompensated because of the date when damages were calculated and changed the law so that future multipliers should be calculated from trial.

Thoughts on the case: ‘Mrs Knauer made contact with me several years ago. The prison was old and full of asbestos. She said it was the only place she ever worked with asbestos. We tried to contact maintenance staff and prison officers from the time she worked there. We had to contact about 48 witnesses. The prison tried to prevent any contact with staff. Eventually we talked to people who had retired from the prison. We issued proceedings, which were strenuously defended by the Ministry of Justice but eventually they agreed to a judgment in our favour.’

Dealing with the media: ‘The press crowded around Mr Knauer’s house on the day of the judgment. He was quite distressed to come home from work to find a huge media scrum.’

Why become a lawyer? ‘To use my legal skills to help people with their problems.’

Career high: ‘Rees v Mabco (part of the Heil v Rankin claim) in which the Court of Appeal fixed damages for mesothelioma patients for the whole of England.’

Career low: ‘A personal injury case. At the last minute the defendants produced a video indicating the claimant could do things she said she could not do. I had no knowledge of this. It was a great embarrassment.’

Notes to editors

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