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Nathan Watson v Attorney General of Jamaica
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1 User Commentary

Melanie Davidson (In-house lawyer) 28 September 2015

Case Digest: Nathan Watson v The Attorney General of Jamaica [2015] JMSC Civ 5

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The Supreme Court of Jamaica handed down its judgment in Nathan Watson v The Attorney General of Jamaica [2015] JMSC Civ 5.

The claimant was involved in a traffic accident with a government vehicle at an intersection. As a result the claimant sustained multiple injuries to various parts of his body and was admitted to the hospital where he spent one week recovering.

The first issue which arose in the case was the question of which of the two drivers had the lawful authority to enter the intersection at the material time?

A second issue concerned whether the National Minimum Wage should be used as a guide, in the absence of evidence, where the claimant was a caregiver. If the National Minimum Wage was used as a guide, did the claimant have an evidential burden to lay the current order under the Minimum Wage Act (MWA) before the court?

In a judgment given by Brown J, with regard the first issue, he determined that the claimant had lawful authority to enter the intersection because the green light was displayed when the claimant entered the intersection. He relied on the authorities established to infer that the light on the defendant’s side was showing red: Wells v Woodward (1956), 54 L.G.R. 142 (DC). Also adopting and adapting the reasoning in Joseph Eva Ltd v. Reeves [1938] 2 K.B. 393.

On the second issue raised the learned judge determined that “[i]n the absence of an available data showing what untrained, informal caregivers are paid, in my opinion the National Minimum Wage could be a useful guide. The sum claimed could then be juxtaposed and assessed accordingly for its reasonableness. …”Although the claimant did not place the order under the MWA before the judge he was of the view that it should be his guide for the simple reason that is it is the law of the land.

The defendant’s driver was found solely responsible for the accident and for the injuries sustained by the claimant and therefore ordered to pay damages as follows;

(i) General Damages: $2.7 m with interest at 3% from the 10th October, 2008 to the 30th January, 2015.

(ii) Special Damages: $180,700.00 with interest at 3% from the 24th October, 2007 to the 30th January, 2015.

(iii) Future medical care: $272,000.00.

(iv) Costs to the claimant, to be taxed if not agreed.

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