Oakley v Walker – 1977

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Last modified: 07/03/18 Author: In-house law team

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Oakley v Walker [1977] 121 Sol Jo 619



The plaintiff suffered severe personal injuries, including a change of personality, as a result of the defendant's negligence. His injuries and in particular his personality changes caused his wife to leave him. The claimant 's two young children were left in his care.


The issue was whether the cost of providing care send attention for the children and of obtaining help with keeping the home and other such tasks which had previously been performed by the claimant’s wife was recoverable under the principles of remoteness of damage.


The Court held that as it was a reasonably foreseeable consequence of the personality changes which the claimant had suffered that his wife would leave him and that, if she did so, he would incur the financial cost of caring for their children and of performing those general household tasks which the claimant's wife had once undertaken, these losses were not so remote as to prevent recovery (applying the test in The Wagon Mound No 1 [1961] A.C. 388). They fell within the general category of practical consequences of personal injury for which a claimant might recover damages. 

However, the multiplier used in quantifying the award of damages for such losses should reflect the possibility that the situation might be resolved, for example in the event that the claimant should remarry.  Damages were therefore awarded for a period of only serve years in respect of the losses caused by the personality changes.

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