Call us now 

0344 967 0793

Foundation Trust will now allow the UK Supreme Court to revisit the controversial judgment of Croke v Wiseman, which was widely criticised as placing awards of damages for children on a different basis than those that adults can claim.

At the moment, parents bringing a claim arising from the death of their child are very unlikely to be able to establish that they might be dependent on the child’s earning potential after the death. If the UK Supreme Court overturns the case of Croke, then a parent acting as their child’s litigation friend will be able to make a claim for their child’s “lost years” where damages are awarded while the child is alive.

What is a claim for “lost years”?

This is a claim for compensation for loss of earnings and pension incurred between the expected date of death and the date of death likely to occur due to negligence. Those years between the two dates are “the lost years”.  As the law stands today, adults can make a claim for this, but children cannot. This was the principle established in Croke.

The case of Croke confirmed that adults can claim for “lost years” because they have been deprived by the shortening of life and the opportunity to use their income as they wished if they had lived to their normal life expectancy.

How has the law developed?

Over the years, the law has developed to consider the position repeatedly, but with no satisfactory outcome for child claimants, with Courts saying that it was just too difficult and too distant a prospect to calculate what a child’s earnings and pension capacity would be after their death.

Croke v Wiseman finally shut the door on further discussion about this as long ago as 1982, notwithstanding an appeal in another case that never reached the House of Lords, and since that date, the law has remained that children cannot claim for “lost years”.

What has changed now?

In the case of CCC, the claimant’s solicitors advanced a claim for £823,506 regarding “lost years”. The Judge hearing the case declined to assess that part of the claim and commented that this was not “a matter for off-the-cuff judgments”. This means that the element of the claim remains undecided and will now be a decision made by the UK Supreme Court, although we don’t yet know when that will happen.

This decision has been well received by lawyers, including us at Lester Aldridge, who undertake a large amount of work for seriously injured children because it could mean that a decision to overturn the principle in Croke is made and “lost years” claims can be made on behalf of children moving forwards.

Whilst we are waiting for the Supreme Court to consider the position, lawyers acting for children will likely continue to include claims for “lost years” in the event that, if those cases proceed to trial, Judges may ring-fence that part of the claim pending the decision.

Liz Oaten, Partner in the Clinical Negligence team at Lester Aldridge, is accredited to the Law Society, APIL and AvMA clinical negligence panels and is skilled in this area of law. Liz welcomes the decision in CCC and says, “This has been a thorny issue between parties for a number of years and clarification from the Supreme Court will be extremely beneficial. If the decision favours claimants, this will add considerable sums to damages awards.”

Our team are happy to discuss your concerns free of charge and without obligation. Please get in touch with us at or 0344 967 0791.