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Potter (A Child) v The Estate of Riddle (dec'd) T/A Voldemort

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This claim was recently settled despite the incident occurring some 18 years ago. As the attack occurred when Potter was just a baby, the period of limitation only expired on his 21 st birthday and proceedings were issued at court before this date.

Potter sought damages for bodily injury as he received a facial scar which he found to be of moderate cosmetic value.

The scar itself was lightning bolt shaped, approximately an inch in length, and was on the right hand side of the Potter’s forehead.  It could be covered up by hair but Potter was very conscious of his scar, particularly when people stared at it.  Potter also suffered from headaches and visions, denoting some neurological damage, for a period of years.  In the case of U (A Child) v U (2003), the Claimant suffered a 2.5cm by 2mm scar to her mid-forehead.  She suffered from headaches for a short period after the accident (as opposed to Potter whose headaches continued throughout his teenage life which was indicative of the magical nature of the scar).  The scar was noticeable from 6ft away, could not be hidden by makeup and would increase in size as she grew up.

Interestingly, U was a practising Hindu but refused to wear the Bindi, the circular ornament worn by Hindu women in the middle of the forehead as it highlighted the scar. There is no suggestion that Potter experienced something like this and therefore U would have received a token award for this additional spiritual discomfort.

U also suffered from diminished marriage prospects as a result of the scar which Potter did not suffer from. Indeed, as the Defendant’s solicitors argued, his scar has conversely led to an increase in his marriage prospects

The Defendant’s solicitors also argued that, although the scar was a problem, it had inadvertently saved Potter’s life when he was later killed and brought back to life (thanks to a portion of the Defendant’s soul which resided within Potter as a result of the accident). Similarly, Potter was able to talk to snakes, thanks to the scar.

The Judge ruled that, although the scar had proved to be a benefit in many respects, it was not the Defendant’s intention to grant these benefits to Potter, indeed, his intention was to harm Potter as the benefits of being able to communicate with snakes and, on one occasion, come back from the dead were not intentional and were unforeseeable.  Indeed, Potter only found out that he had these powers by accident and could quite reasonably have never experienced them at all.  Therefore the Defendant’s argument was dismissed by the Judge and no reduction to Potter’s award was given.

The Judge adopted the JC Guideline approach to scarring and placed it in the bracket 9(B)(a)(iii) ‘Significant Scarring’ which attracts awards ranging from £6,700 to £13,200 and took into account the case of U .   He awarded Potter £9,000 in damages which was larger than that received by U and took into account the length of the neurological injuries from the scar.

The Defendant’s counter-claim for injuries sustained during the same attack that gave Potter his scar was dismissed by the Judge.  It was the Defendant’s argument that after casting the spell that left Potter with his injuries, the spell rebounded onto the Defendant which left him in an incorporeal state for some 14 years.  The Judge stated that this was a case of ex turpi causa non oritur actio (no action can be brought based on wickedness) and therefore the Defendant was not entitled to compensation.

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