Inflationary Increases to Personal Injury Compensation: Judicial College Guidelines Update.

In claims for personal injury, an injured person is entitled to recover compensation for not only their financial losses arising as a result of the accident, but also an award for ‘general damages’. This award is to cover any pain, suffering and loss of amenity (PSLA) that a person has suffered in an accident or incident which was not their fault – but how is this calculated? With the release of the updated Judicial College Guidelines for the Assessment of General Damages in April 2024, now in their 17th edition, we thought it would be useful to explain this area of compensation further.

We understand that a monetary award can sometimes never make up for the pain an injury has caused you, whether that be physical, mental, emotional, or a combination of the three. It can also be very difficult to quantify – for example what level of award would be acceptable for a person who has suffered a catastrophic spinal injury, become paralysed and will never be able to walk again? Practitioners will therefore look to a number of sources to assist in valuing these claims, with the first port of call often being the Judicial College Guidelines.

These guidelines are an accepted authority in England & Wales, summarising the awards of damages that have been and are being awarded by courts throughout the UK in personal injury cases. They are designed to provide a clear and logical framework for the assessment of damages, and are a starting point when valuing any claim. The guidelines are broken up into various chapters and sections, breaking down different types of injury by area and severity.

The calculation of these figures is based on the historical use of the Retail Price Index (RPI) to uprate them. The newly-released 17th edition brings a much needed increase in value from the previous version released in April 2022, with most brackets rising by around +22% to cover the inflationary increase. For practitioners, it should be noted that the commentary within the guidelines advises that these brackets are only uplifted due to inflation up until the end of August 2023, therefore a further uplift will need to be applied by lawyers depending upon the date of settlement.

So what does this mean in terms of numbers? Well, using the example above of a previously non-injured person who has suffered a catastrophic spinal injury and become paralysed for life, this would most likely fall within Chapter 2 – Injuries involving Paralysis, Section (B) – Paraplegia. The narrative description for this section states:

“The level of the award within the bracket will be affected by the following considerations:

i) the presence and extent of pain;
ii) the degree of independence;
iii) depression;
iv) age and life expectancy;
v) impact on sexual function.

The presence of increasing paralysis, or the degree of risk that this will occur (e.g. from syringomyelia), might take the case above this bracket, as may the presence of other significant injuries. The former might be the subject of a provisional damages order.”

Under the previous 16th edition of the guidelines, an injury falling within this bracket would be expected to receive an award of somewhere between £219,070 – £284,260. However, due to the uplift from the new 17th edition, the same injury would now receive an award of somewhere between £267,340 - £346,890.

We welcome the inflationary increase to the guidelines to lessen the impact of recent economic circumstances on a damages award. Here at Lanyon Bowdler we specialise in maximising the level of compensation you are likely to receive as a result of your injuries, if you would like more information regarding this please contact us on 01743 280280 or email:

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