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Page v Smith explained

March 13, 2014

Following my previous post about the controversial case of Page v Smith [1995] UKHL 7 , I decided it might be a good idea to draft a simplified version of what actually happened in the case.

scales of justice

The scales of justice

Let’s start with a quick re-cap of the facts of the case:

In 1987, Mr Page and Mr Smith were involved in a minor road traffic accident which, it was agreed, was the fault of Mr Smith. Mr Page sustained no direct physical injury from the accident but did suffer a major relapse of his myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME – also sometimes known, unhelpfully, as chronic fatigue syndrome or CFS) and so he claimed damages from Mr Smith. The case went all the way up to the House of Lords (which in 2009 became known as the Supreme Court). The House of Lords (HL) found in Mr Page’s favour, although not unanimously. The Law Lords remitted the matter back down to the Court of Appeal for a final determination. The Court of Appeal, having found against Mr Page the first time around, now found in his favour – in 1996.

So, in the interests of clarity, I have come up with this explanation.


High Court: Nice judge. Lots of jolly good but largely irrelevant [“obiter“] discussion about ME (real illness; nasty business). Didn’t like The Weasel*. Secretly felt sorry for Mr P so awarded damages.

Court of Appeal (1): Nasty lot. Lots of squabbling. Couldn’t make up their minds so they took Mr P’s money away and buggered off to the pub.

House of Lords: More judges. More squabbling. P has ME; P has accident; P suffers “nervous shock” [an archaic legal term] caused by accident; nervous shock causes a “recognisable psychiatric illness” (bit wobbly about exactly what illness because we’re only pretend doctors and PTSD is still in beta at the moment); said illness triggers relapse of ME. Bingo. My judgment’s bigger than yours.

Court of Appeal (2): Back again FFS. Last lot buggered off to the pub and forgot to determine causation. Of course the accident made Mr P worse. Give the man his money back and get those bloody insurance companies out of here. Mine’s a G & T. Obiter.

Case comment by Mr Page and Mr Smith: Dude – nine years. Seriously?


Anyone fancy doing the rap version?

* Pejorative name for an expert witness in the case.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. Jack permalink
    March 13, 2014 11:28


    I am still giggling. Excellent. Having tried to simplify this myself as you know over the last week – I needed that. Thank-you 🙂


  2. Chris Welton permalink
    March 13, 2014 12:05

    If only all updates were as succinct and amusing.
    I shall eagerly await the Pantomime version.


  3. Linda permalink
    March 19, 2014 15:01

    Thank you, Valerie. Your light-hearted, funny response to the tetchy reply to “Turning the Page……..” is the perfect antidote!

    Always look forward to your posts.


  4. rramyar permalink
    May 30, 2020 21:14

    Incisive and funny – I don’t remember law school cutting to the chase so amusingly!

    Amazingly written.



  1. Turning the Page (and the Smith): checking the facts – and why we need to broaden the debate | valerieeliotsmith

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