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Compensation paid to negligence victims is strictly ring-fenced and can normally only be used in their best interests. However, in one case, a judge has ruled that a boy's private school fees can be met out of his disabled sister's £5 million damages award.
The young woman was left in need of constant care and incapable of making decisions for herself as a result of a GP's negligence following her birth. After extensive litigation, the GP's insurers had settled her claim for a £5 million lump sum.
Her younger brother's education had suffered due to the strain the family was under and he had failed to get into grammar school. His parents had instead sent him to an independent school and the solicitor appointed to manage the award sought the Court of Protection's permission for annual fees of £17,000 to be paid out of his sister's compensation.
In granting that application, the Court noted that it was the solicitor's duty to protect and conserve the woman's award and to ensure that it was employed in her best interests. However, that did not require him to be over-cautious or unnecessarily austere. Commenting that 'no man is an island', the Court observed that members of the family were mutually dependent and that it would be wrong to view the woman's interests in isolation from those of her family as a whole.