P was involved in a road traffic accident in 2001 when she was just six years old. As a result of the accident, P suffered a severe brain injury.
P made a remarkable recovery from her injuries, but has been left with some cognitive deficits. She struggles with organisation, budgeting and planning. She can be very impulsive and disinhibited. She also suffers from fatigue.
P is now 22 years old and studying for a degree in nursing. She hopes to secure a job on a High Dependency Unit at a local hospital following qualification, and also has plans to work abroad in the future. One of the first things she wanted to do with her money following settlement of her personal injury claim was to make a donation to Great Ormond Street Hospital, and specifically the unit where she was treated following her accident. Her story is truly inspirational.
P’s claim for damages settled earlier this year. At the beginning of the year the litigation lawyer had real concerns about the case, as the defendant took the view that P’s remarkable recovery, her educational success and ability to live independently with other students of her age meant that her needs were very limited. In particular, the defendant queried whether P in fact had capacity to manage her own financial affairs. On paper, it is easy to see why the defendant would suggest this; it is certainly true that P has achieved a great deal, she presents as a measured, capable and conscientious 22 year old. But this has not come easily and she has required a lot of support from us as her deputyship team, as well as from her parents.
We were able to support the litigation lawyer by providing witness statements detailing our experience of working with P. Her difficulties with managing her budget went beyond the difficulties typically experienced by other students her age, and we were able to demonstrate this with numerous examples of when we have had to intervene.
A joint settlement meeting was scheduled for 27 February 2017. This was the same day that the Lord Chancellor announced that the new discount rate for multipliers was to be fixed at -0.75% with effect from 20 March 2017. This was a reduction from 2.5%, and the implications were massive. P’s case settled that day using the new rates. To put this into context, the day before the new rate was announced, on the basis of the agreement between the parties, the case would have settled for £1,569,000. As a result of the new discount rate, the actual settlement attained was £2,950,000.
The discount rate has been under review for the last seven years. Claimant solicitors have long been arguing for a reduction and welcomed this announcement. The implications relate not only to the calculation of future claims, but also any past claims which were settled on the basis that they could be revisited in the event that the discount rate is revised. We act as the deputy in several cases which have been reopened as further and substantial funds have now become due. At the time of writing, consultation on the new rate is ongoing.