Judgment has been handed down in Manuel Mathieu v (1) Tony Martin Hinds (2) Aviva Plc  EWHC 924 (QB) following a 10-day quantum trial before Mrs Justice Hill in February 2022.
The Claimant, Mr Manuel Mathieu (then aged 29), suffered a traumatic brain injury in November 2015 when he was hit by a stolen moped insured by the Second Defendant, who admitted liability.
At the time of the accident, Mr Mathieu was studying for a Masters’ degree in Fine Art at Goldsmiths College, London. Despite suffering a severe brain injury, by the date of trial 6.5 years post-accident, he had gone on to enjoy a very successful international career as an artist. However, he claimed that ongoing headaches, fatigue and cognitive deficits resulted in a lifelong shortfall in his productivity, and he sued for £33m.
The case gave rise to a number of interesting points which fell to be determined by Hill J but of most relevance to the insurance industry was the claim for provisional damages in respect of dementia. These claims are now routinely pleaded in brain injury cases, but the issue had not previously been litigated. Had the Claimant succeeded, it would have been a floodgates moment for the insurance industry with the consequence that an additional premium would have been payable by insurers to buy off the future risk in almost all brain injury cases (as is common in epilepsy claims) or else they would have been forced to accede to such an order with all the consequences that would bring in respect of book closure and reserves.
However, the argument was resoundingly defeated, with Hill J rejecting that a causal relationship in respect of any elevated risk of future development could be established by reference to the literature.
- In this regard, it was said by Hill J, at paragraph 342 of the Judgment, “I therefore accept the Second Defendant’s submission that the claim for provisional damages fails at the first stage.”
- Furthermore, at paragraph 348, she added, “I therefore consider that it would not be appropriate to exercise the discretion to award provisional damages in respect of dementia, even if I had considered the first Willson question could be answered positively.”
The case received widespread coverage in the national press:
The full 360-paragraph judgment can be found here.
Marcus Dignum QC and Hugh Hamill represented the Second Defendant and were instructed by Steve King and Olly Bowes-Smith of DWF Law LLP. They will be discussing the wider implications of the case at the 12KBW Annual Conference.