In the judgment in Simmons v Castle  EWCA Civ 1039, handed down on 26th July 2012, the Court of Appeal ruled that a 10% increase in general damages would be applied to all cases where judgment is given after 1st April 2013 (the early notice being given in order to allow those who are either engaged in or contemplating litigation to be able to properly prepare for the impending changes). The ruling, which relates mainly to tort claims, was made in light of forthcoming changes to the civil costs regime, initiated by Lord Justice Jackson in his Review of Civil Litigation Costs.
In making the ruling, the Lord Chief Justice referred to Lord Diplock’s observation in Wright v British Railways Board  2 AC 773 that:
“the Court of Appeal was, generally speaking, the tribunal best qualified to set guidelines for judges trying such actions, particularly in respect of non-economic loss”
and went on to state, as Lord Woolf had said when giving judgment in Heil v Rankin  EWCA Civ 84 that Lord Diplock’s intention had also been that the Court of Appeal would have the responsibility of keeping the guidelines up to date. Lord Woolf had also said:
“Consistency of approach in the assessment of damages, whether special or general, is important, partly because it is a fundamental aspect of justice, and partly because it assists settlement.”
In the judgment in Simmons v Castle above, the Court of Appeal stated:
“This court has not merely the power, but a positive duty, to monitor and where appropriate to alter, the guideline rates for General Damages to increase Costs Lawyer.”
In house Law costs draftsmen concluded perhaps the threat of increased damages at Trial may mean early settlement in some cases, who knows…….?