Time the law caught up with the unmarried bereaved?

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Joe Wilkins was killed by a car while out cycling. The motorist responsible admitted causing death by dangerous driving.

In England, under the terms of the Fatal Accidents Act, a spouse, civil partner or the parents of a minor killed in an accident caused by the negligence of breach of duty of another are eligible for a bereavement payment of £12,980.

Nicci Saunders, Joe’s partner of seven years and the father of their two children, was not eligible for the grant. She and Joe weren’t married.

They do things differently under Scottish law. There’s no fixed limit on the payout and there’s much more flexibility about who qualifies.

Fortunately for Nicci, Joe had his affairs in order and she is provided for. Had he not named her in his will she’d have had no right to inherit, either.

Terribly unfair? Solicitor Joanne Berry thinks so: “The English system does not reflect modern family life … A couple who may have been together for decades but chosen not to marry are treated differently from a bereaved newlywed.

Sources and more detail here and here.


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