§ 1. Mr. Abse
asked the Attorney-General if he is aware that account is taken by a court in assessing the damages due to a widow making a claim in respect of her husband's death of her future matrimonial prospects; whether he is aware that no special talent lies with the courts to enable them to prognosticate upon such issues; and whether, in order to bring the law into keeping with contemporary standards, he will refer consideration of widows' damages to the Law Reform Committee.
§ The Attorney-General (Sir John Hobson)
The damages awarded to a widow in an action under the Fatal Accidents Act are measured by the financial loss that she suffers as a result of her husband's death. In estimating the extent of the loss the courts are bound to take into account the possi- 2 bility that she may remarry. It may well be that the courts have no special expertise in matters of this kind, but an assessment has to be made. I do not think there is any problem here which could usefully be referred to the Law Reform Committee.
§ Mr. Abse
Is not the Attorney-General aware that there is a growing body of opinion which thinks that it is degrading that a widow should be subjected to treatment which perhaps would be expected by a slave girl in a Persian market? Is not it really absurd to expect a judge—whatever a soothsayer may be able to do—to be able to assess whether a woman may get married or not? Is he further aware that, as a result of this unfortunate and uncertain method of assessing damages, widows are being spied on to ascertain whether they have friends whom they may be likely to marry? Is not it time that something involving a reform of the law was considered by the Government, or are they completely stuck in this present Session?
§ The Attorney-General
A large number of measures for the reform of the law have been introduced while this Government have been in power, and particularly during this Session. Coming down to the details, this is a difficult question, as I recognise. But if a widow has already remarried someone who is better off one would not expect that that fact should not be taken into account; and if she were about to marry someone better off I think that 3 that fact must also be taken into account; and if there is an expectation that she will marry someone who is better off that is also something which the courts have to consider. In any case, I think it is generally recognised that judges deal with these difficult cases with delicacy and good judgment in the vast majority of cases.