Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

The House of Lords’ refusal to award damages for the cost of raising children born as a result of negligence has rightly been subject to substantial criticism. Much of this has focused on the handling of the economic loss aspects of such claims, and on the problematic moral arguments raised in support of this refusal. While these are legitimate criticisms, there are further problems with the approach of the courts to maintenance costs that have not been fully examined. In both 'McFarlane v Tayside Health Board' and later 'Rees v Darlington Memorial Hospital NHS Trust', some judges considered that, in order to calculate the damages, benefits accruing to the claimants from the child’s existence (however unintended) would have to be set-off against the losses claimed, that is, the costs of raising the child.

Original publication




Journal article


Law Quarterly Review


Sweet and Maxwell

Publication Date





407 - 431