Moeliker v A Reyolle & Co Ltd [1977] 1 All ER 9



The claimant had been apprenticed to the defendant company when he was a teenager and had been employed by them ever since.  In his mid forties, he suffered a serious injury to his hand whilst at work, as a result of which his thumb and index finger were amputated. He required several months off work to recover but lost no wages during this period. However, he suffered long term pain and loss of the use of his hand, particularly in that he was unable to enjoy his favourite pastime of fishing. He brought a claim against the defendant for personal injury, and at first instance was awarded damages for both pain, suffering and loss of amenity and for loss of earning capacity.


The claimant contended that both sums were too low; the basis on which damages for loss of earnings and for pain, suffering, and loss of amenity should be calculated was therefore in issue.


The Court dismissed the appeal against the award for loss of earnings, setting out the factors which should be taken into account when quantifying this head of damages. These included the existence of a real or substantial risk that a plaintiff might lose his employment within his working life and/ or might be disadvantaged in securing similar employment.  Where such a risk could be shown the assessment of damages should take into account: the extent of the risk; the time when the loss of employment might occur; factors affecting the plaintiff's chances of securing alternative employment.

The award for pain, suffering, and loss of amenity was increased, taking into account the number of years for which the claimant would likely have to live with the injury.