29—Liability to surviving spouse or domestic partner of person
(1) Whenever the death
of a person is caused by a wrongful act, neglect or default and the act,
neglect or default is such as would, if death had not ensued, have entitled
that person to maintain an action to recover damages, the person who would
have been liable if death had not ensued shall be liable to pay to the
surviving spouse or domestic partner of the deceased person such sum—
where the death occurred before the commencement of the Wrongs Act Amendment
Act 1974 —not exceeding one thousand four hundred dollars; or
where the death occurred after the commencement of the Wrongs Act Amendment
Act 1974 —not exceeding $10 000,
as the court thinks just by way of solatium for the suffering caused to the
spouse or domestic partner by that death.
(2) Where the deceased
person is survived by a spouse and a domestic partner, they may both claim
solatium under this section, but the total amount awarded by way of solatium
in any such case shall not exceed the amount that could have been awarded if
the deceased had been survived by a single spouse or domestic partner.
(3) Where, in any
proceedings under this section, a spouse and a domestic partner both claim
solatium under this section, any solatium awarded by the court shall be
apportioned between the claimants in such manner as the court thinks just.
(4) In proceedings for
solatium by a spouse, it is not necessary for the court to inquire if the
deceased was also survived by a domestic partner (but a domestic partner may,
at any time before the proceedings are finally determined, apply to the court
to be joined as a party to the proceedings).