in the cause







Pursuers: Brady, Q.C., Gilmore; Henderson Boyd Jackson, W.S.

Defenders: MacAulay, Q.C., Arthurson; Simpson & Marwick, W.S.

28 May 2002

[1]The pursuers are the immediate family of Tareq Shaher, who died in a flying accident near Sanquhar on 15 September 1993. The first pursuer is the father of Tareq Shaher and sues as an individual and as the guardian of his youngest son Amr Shaher, who was born on 11 February 1990 and who resides with him. The second pursuer is the mother of Tareq Shaher, who lives in family with the first pursuer and Amr Shaher. The third pursuer is the other brother of Tareq Shaher, and currently resides in France. On 15 September 1993 Tareq Shaher was, and had been for some months, a student at the defenders' flying college.

[2]The defenders operate a training establishment which specialises in the training of commercial pilots. At the time of Tareq Shaher's death they had a place of business at Prestwick International Airport, Ayrshire. The college was organised and carried out flying instruction for students in terms of guidelines approved by the Civil Aviation Authority and was in general terms supervised by that institution. The operational organisation of the defenders at the material time was under the general supervision of a chief instructor. Below him was a chief flying instructor, who at the time of Tareq Shaher's death was Captain George Shipley. The day to day flying instruction was carried out by a number of flying instructors. At the material time the flying instructor responsible for the training of Tareq Shaher was Captain Calum McDougall. All of the operational staff of the flying college had considerable practical experience both in flying and in the training of pilots. Students at the college were normally sponsored by individual airlines, and when they had completed the course they were then expected to transfer to further training with the airlines involved. Tareq Shaher was a student sponsored by Gulf Airlines.

[3]The nature of the course provided by the defenders for the training of commercial pilots included both flying and ground school training. The school worked to a syllabus, which had been written in order to satisfy the needs of training pilots to the required standard and which had been approved by the Civil Aviation Authority. The flying course consisted of three principal sub-divisions comprising basic, intermediate and final stages. Flying instruction consisted of both dual flights with an instructor and solo flights. Flights were both operational and navigational. In addition, students graduated from single engine planes to twin-engined planes as they progressed through the course. At the time of the accident on 15 September 1993, Tareq Shaher had just completed the basic flying course and was in the very early stages of the intermediate part of his studies.

[4]The progress of students through the course was carefully monitored throughout their training, and was continuously assessed in relation to the syllabus. In addition, each pupil required to pass progress tests at certain intervals. The principal method for recording progress so far as flying was concerned was by means of flight record reports. Such a report was completed in respect of every flight undertaken by a student, whether solo or dual. The flight record report was recorded on a pre-printed form which had spaces for all of the relevant details relating to that particular flight. In particular, the date, time and details of the aircraft were recorded, as were the name or names of the pilots and the times of the flight. The form also contained a substantial list of particular manoeuvres or operations which the student required to do in the course of his training. Any particular manoeuvre or operation that was carried out in the course of the flight would be marked by the instructor on the range of 1 to 5, 1 being unacceptable and 5 being excellent. At the bottom of the form there was a space for the instructor to make comments.

[5]In addition to the flight record reports, the chief flying instructor and the flying instructor attached to a particular pupil regularly discussed the progress of that pupil throughout his course. The flight record reports were available to the chief instructor and to the chief flying instructor. There was also a method of reporting the performance of pupils in respect of their ground training lessons and conduct. Special reports could be raised in respect of individual pupils in the event of there being a particular problem with the progress of that pupil. In the early stages of training, the college provided pupils with two types of aircraft, namely a Bravo and a Warrior. The handling, checks and operation of these two aircraft were somewhat different.

[6]By 15 September 1993 Tareq Shaher had completed about 90 hours of flying and had passed his various progress tests, although he initially failed part of his second progress test on 31 August 1993.

[7]In the course of the proof considerable attention was paid to the flight report forms in respect of Tareq Shaher, which contained the main evidence of his progress and flying abilities. There were 44 flight report forms in total. A number of the very early reports contained the occasional adverse comment, but having regard to the level of progress which had been made by that stage, it appears clear that none of the expert witnesses on either side considered that there was any particular problem emerging in the first few hours of Tareq Shaher's training. Reference was made to problems he originally had with taxi-ing, and he recorded some low scores at certain aspects of his general handling and airmanship, but serious problems did not appear at that stage. Then, a first special report was raised at an early stage expressing some measure of concern at his progress, but those concerns were resolved when Tareq Shaher undertook his first solo flight at about the appropriate time in his course according to the syllabus. However, as time progressed, it appeared that he displayed a number of characteristics or traits which caused the chief flying instructor a significant measure of concern. In particular, he made a wholly unauthorised landing at Wester Freugh, a small airport used by the defenders in the south-west of Scotland. This caused sufficient concern among those supervising his tuition that it was decided that he should have a change of instructor. Accordingly, from 9 July 1993 onwards, Tareq Shaher's instructor was Captain McDougall. It appears to be accepted that Captain McDougall was regarded as a more exacting teacher than those previously allocated. His first flight report form thereafter (for flight 102) noted that a number of important checks had not been done or were not known by Tareq Shaher, and Captain McDougall indicated that he should be grounded until he knew these checks. A second flight on the same day (flight No.103) noted again that the checks were carelessly done. On 10 August 1993 (which appears to be Tareq Shaher's first flight after returning from a holiday), Captain McDougall expressed his level of concern about Tareq Shaher's inability to perform checks by noting that if there was no improvement he would be stopped from flying. A second flight on the same day (flight 102R) again expressed concern about his checks. Mr Shaher's next three reports were reasonably good, but the last six flight report forms filled out by Captain McDougall all expressed concern in graphic terms about aspects of Mr Shaher's performance. On 19 August 1993 (flight 52) Tareq Shaher's first circuit was described by Captain McDougall as the most inaccurate he had seen in years. Captain McDougall added that Tareq Shaher was careless and that such an attitude was responsible for killing pilots. On the flight of 27 August 1993 (flight 58) Captain McDougall expressed the view that his student should think before transmitting on his radio. On 28 August 1993 (flight 59) Captain McDougall appears to have expressed emphatic concern about Tareq Shaher's failure to keep a proper lookout during medium turns and steep turns and also when stalling. Further, he added that he should know his checks and speeds or (again) come off flying. On 31 August 1993 (flight 62) Captain McDougall again expressed reservations about Tareq Shaher's ability to keep a good lookout and to perform his checks satisfactorily. On 6 September 1993 (flight 107) Captain McDougall expressed concerned about the accuracy of Tareq Shaher's handling of the aircraft. The general areas of concern about Tareq Shaher's airmanship which repeatedly presented themselves therefore were that he was careless of instructions, that he was not good at doing his checks and that his look-out abilities were poor.

[8]In particular, Mr Shaher's careless attitude towards checks and accuracy of heights and speeds had been the subject of a progress review and a further special report at the end of 60 flying hours. It was noted at that time that he required close supervision while flying. His ground school progress was satisfactory, and although he had failed two subjects this was not considered to be unusual and he passed the subjects in due course.

[9]In respect of this second special report, Captain Shipley had required that a further report be raised within the next five flying hours. Prior to that, however, there was a review of Mr Shaher's case with Gulf Airlines. In terms of that review it was decided to maintain Mr Shaher's progress at the school, but Gulf Airlines wrote a letter to Mr Shaher at that time indicating that if his performance did not improve, he would be taken off the course. It is I think significant that on 31 August 1993 he failed his second progress report on the basis, at least in part, that his look out was very poor, both for observing other aircraft in the sky, and selecting visual attitudes in basic handling.

[10]Following his final flight report form on 6 September 1993 Tareq Shaher went back to Bahrain to stay with his family for a short holiday. He returned to the flying school about a week later. On 15 September 1993, he made arrangements to fly a solo cross-country training exercise when his afternoon ground lessons were cancelled. It seems clear that this was his first flight after his return from holiday, and that he had not flown for nine days. College rules specified that if there was a gap of ten days between flights, then students must first do a dual flight with their instructor before resuming solo flying. He approached Captain McDougall and asked for permission to take such a flight. Captain McDougall inspected the weather forecast and indicated that Tareq Shaher should make up a flight plan and return to him for approval of that plan.

[11]Tareq Shaher proposed to fly under visual flights rules from Prestwick by way of Kilmarnock, West Linton, Thornhill and Girvan, before returning to Prestwick. In accordance with the defenders' policy at the time, Mr Shaher prepared the arrangements for his proposed flight and then submitted them to Captain McDougall for approval and authorisation. In this respect Tareq Shaher was expected to work out all details of his course, including speed, directions, altitude and timings, making due allowance for all meteorological factors. The second half of the route proposed by Tareq Shaher and authorised and approved by Captain McDougall involved flying over high ground in excess of 2,000 feet for significant distances.

[12]The weather forecast and reports for the period of the flight on 15 September 1993 indicated that a very slow moving occluded weather system had moved across central Scotland from north-east to south-west in the course of the day. In the first part of the day therefore, it was not possible to undertake flying operations. However, the weather cleared towards the south-east during the course of the day at Prestwick and in the early part of the afternoon visibility was good. In fact, the front was clearing more slowly than expected and it was plain that at the time Tareq Shaher took off, his flight path would take him towards and indeed into significant areas of cloud which followed on the front. In particular, the weather forecasts and reports at the material time indicated that there would be considerable broken or layered cloud down to 1,000 feet over ground where there were hilltops of 2,000 feet, and that there could be as much as 6/8 cover of cloud in such areas. Further, at the material time, although the front was moving slowly to the south-east, a south-east wind tended to blow the clouds to the south-west. A description and forecast for the area south of Edinburgh indicated broken cloud and rain showers. In his evidence, Captain McDougall specifically accepted that he understood that this would be the case, and that in sending Tareq Shaher out on this flight path, he did not expect that Tareq Shaher would be able to complete it because of the weather conditions.

[13]What in fact happened on Mr Shaher's last flight was as follows. He left Prestwick at about 2.20pm and flew west towards Kilmarnock. There was no problems at that time with visibility; there was no cloud in the area between Prestwick and Kilmarnock. From Kilmarnock, he flew east to West Linton. Again weather conditions appeared to be entirely favourable. A few miles short of West Linton, where he was due to turn south, Tareq Shaher turned south-west in a series of 'S' shaped tracks. It is not established why he turned south short of West Linton. When he did so, however, he was not at the material time heading for Thornhill, which was his next fixed point on his route. For a short time then headed south. During this period of the flight he appears to have varied his altitude between 1,800 and 4,000 feet. It seems reasonable to assume that he was attempting to avoid cloud and to maintain visual terrain recognition during this part of his journey and that in particular he was attempting to complete his original route in so far as cloud conditions allowed him to.

[14]As he was progressing eastwards and southwards it does appear therefore that he had caught up with the slow moving weather front which was going in a south-east direction, and experienced more broken cloud at altitudes of 1,000 feet and below. At one point he appears to have been as low as 500 feet above ground. He then turned west towards Lanark, and then again turned south. On this final turn to the south, he was headed on an intersection course with his original flight plan on the leg between Thornhill and Girvan. It that at about this point, some five miles south of Sanquhar, he entered cloud and he reported this over his radio. As a result of his inexperience in flying on instruments alone, he became severely disorientated. He attempted to climb in a figure of eight in order to get out of the cloud while banking his aircraft. It appears at that time to have been his only option. In exercising such a manoeuvre however it is apparently very easy for an inexperienced pilot to fly the plane in such a way that one of the wings is unwittingly allowed to drop and the plane in fact loses height in a spiral dive when the pilot believes that he is climbing. From the records it seems that Mr Shaher therefore came out of the cloud when he was only a short distance above the ground. His attempts to lift the aircraft were then unsuccessful and he crashed suffering fatal consequences.

[15]In these circumstances, the pursuers have raised two cases of fault against the defenders. In the first instance they maintained in general terms that the accident was caused by the fault and negligence of the defenders. In particular it is said that it was their duty to take reasonable care for the safety of Tareq Shaher, and having regard to all of the reports, reviews, tests and other communications relating to his progress, it was in particular their duty to have discontinued his training before the accident occurred. This was emphatically the view of Mr Brampson and Mr Parkinson-Smith, two expert witnesses who gave evidence in support of the pursuers' case. Both were very experienced, and in particular possessed impressive credentials in the field of flight instruction. However, Mr Brampson misunderstood the scoring system on the flight report forms and both experts did not have the benefit of being able to place the flight instructors' remarks in the context of Tareq Shaher's personality and character. While the school recognised that there were several serious areas of concern and difficulty in Tareq Shaher's performance, he also appeared to show some talent in flying, and he had made improvements in certain areas. Accordingly, while the views of Mr Brampson and Mr Parkinson-Smith deserve considerable respect and caused me much concern, I have concluded that provided proper safeguards and care were taken with future training arrangements, the defenders were justified in retaining Tareq Shaher on the course, in order to see if they could remove the serious faults he demonstrated during his training. I do not think therefore that it has been shown that this part of the pursuers' case, based on the narrow ground that Tareq Shaher should, on his performance alone, have been removed from the course before 15 September 1993, has been made out. However, I must emphasis that this conclusion is based on the view that greater care needed to be taken with Tareq Shaher's tuition if he was to stay on the course.

[16]The second case tabled by the pursuers against the defenders is more complex. This in effect alleges that Captain McDougall was negligent in sending Tareq Shaher out on the particular flight on which Tareq Shaher died. Captain McDougall's evidence in this respect was straightforward. He accepted that he was aware that weather conditions would preclude Tareq Shaher from completing the flight he proposed. In particular he was aware that Tareq Shaher would experience significant low broken cloud in the second part of his proposed journey. He said in evidence that he made this clear to his student. He also indicated, as he had done on many occasions before, that Tareq Shaher should not enter cloud and should avoid any such weather hazards. He also maintained that he had emphasised that the minimum distances specified by the school between student pilots and any form of cloud should be maintained.

[17]Captain McDougall also accepted that he was aware that Tareq Shaher had several difficult areas in his training. In a somewhat unsatisfactory passage in his evidence, he maintained that he did not believe that Tareq Shaher was careless, despite having used that word in several occasions in his reports. Captain McDougall's explanation of these views, as supported by Mr Heatherhayes, an expert witness for the defenders, was that Mr Shaher was being told that flying is a multi-skill business and that his allocation of attention to particular aspects of his work was inappropriate. This does not however accord with the objective evidence. It is clear that, on any definition of the word, Tareq Shaher's airmanship was careless in several material respects. While this was an unsatisfactory semantic exercise conducted by Captain McDougall, I do not believe that he was attempting in any way to mislead the court about the true position; rather I think he was simply maintaining his position on the exercise of judgement which he undertook on that particular day. Nonetheless the fact remains that at the time Tareq Shaher embarked upon his last flight there had been repeated and recent concerns about the accuracy of his flying, his ability to keep a proper lookout, and his willingness to follow instructions.

[18]The principal case argued for by the pursuers in this respect is found in the esto averments contained in Condescendence 5 These suggest that it was the duty of Captain McDougall to consider whether it was appropriate for a student of the known ability and experience of Tareq Shaher to attempt to navigate such a route in such weather conditions. In particular it is averred that Captain McDougall failed in his duty of care towards Tareq Shaher by authorising such a flight. In my view, that case of fault as pled clearly indicates that what should have been in Captain McDougall's mind was the character, temperament and attitude of his pupil, as well as his flying abilities and past record.

[19]I am satisfied that Captain McDougall was wholly wrong in authorising Tareq Shaher to undergo this particular flight in the circumstances on the day in question. I should make it clear that Captain McDougall was an impressive figure in the witness box, and showed a considerable degree of integrity and intelligence in addressing the difficult questions which he required to answer. I have no doubt about his general competence or ability. However, at the same time I am of the opinion that in instructing and authorising this particular flight he was entirely in error. I am not convinced that this mistake was, in the wider sense, solely attributable to himself and that the decision to take a particular line with Tareq Shaher was his responsibility alone. For example, the position he adopted was clearly endorsed by Captain Shipley. But Captain McDougall plainly accepted that in principle he was the person responsible for the safety of students under his tuition. It was clear from all of the evidence in the case that Tareq Shaher was both extremely keen to do well and impetuous by nature. He was anxious to please, but as indicated above he had certain severe limitations as a pilot. In allowing him to carry out this flight, Captain McDougall indicated that in certain respects the flight was well within Tareq Shaher's capacity. However, in the circumstances I am satisfied that he should also have been aware that there was a distinct possibility that Tareq Shaher would attempt to complete his flight plan (and it is very plain that that is exactly what he was attempting to do in the course of his final flight), and that he should have appreciated that Tareq Shaher was liable to catch up with the occluded front which was moving slowly south eastwards. As he himself freely accepted, Captain McDougall was aware that there would be significant areas of broken cloud in the second part of the route. It was therefore foreseeable, and should have been foreseen by Captain McDougall, that Tareq Shaher would not only attempt to complete his route, but that this would bring him into contact with significant areas of broken cloud. It is common ground that he was not trained to fly in cloud. Captain McDougall was also aware that among Tareq Shaher's most significant faults were a failure to keep a look-out, and to maintain checks on his position. He should therefore have anticipated that Tareq Shaher would not only be liable to fly towards the broken cloud, but that his defective airmanship might cause him to fly into that cloud. It was also clear that in the latter part of his journey some of the hilltops on the flight route would be covered by cloud. It was clear that once Tareq Shaher entered cloud in these circumstances, he was liable to lose control of his aeroplane and crash. While he had been advised that if he did by chance enter cloud, he should do a 180o turn, I accepted the expert evidence for the pursuers that once an inexperienced pilot like Fareq Shaher enters cloud, he is likely not to survive. I conclude therefore that Captain McDougall should have anticipated the possibility of what in fact happened and should not have authorised Tareq Shaher to go on the flight. For these reasons, I find that on this occasion Captain McDougall was negligent in allowing the flight to proceed.

[20]Equally at the same time Tareq Shaher himself must accept some responsibility for what happened. He had often been told not to go into cloud and indeed not to approach it within certain limits. I have no doubt that he did fly towards cloud in the belief that he could avoid it and complete his route, thus acquiring appropriate measures of credit. By ignoring his instructions he contributed to the final outcome. In all the circumstances I think that he contributed equally to the accident and that contributory negligence should be assessed at 50%.

[21]The pursuers' claims for quantum were quite complex. In essence the first and second pursuer claim damages for what is generally termed loss of society and also for loss of financial support. Further, the first pursuer sought damages for loss of support as guardian of his youngest son Amr, who is still at school. The third pursuer also claimed damages for loss of support.

[22]The basis of the pursuers' claim for loss of support lies firstly in the promises given by Tareq Shaher to his parents that he would support both them and his two younger brothers through their education. I had no difficulty in accepting the evidence from the first and second named pursuer that, particularly on his last visits to his parents in Bahrain during his holidays from the defenders' flying school in 1993, they had discussed the educational prospects of Talal and Amr. The first pursuer has always been of the view that in Bahrain private education was far preferable to what was provided in the State system. He had sent both Tareq and Talal to private schools throughout their primary and secondary education. The first pursuer himself retired in January 2002 at the age of 61, and his only income is his pension from his previous employers. His salary, inclusive of allowances immediately prior to his retirement was about 1,855 Bahrainan dinhars per month. His pension is 1,008 Bahrainan dinhars per month. The relevant rate of exchange is very roughly £2 sterling for each Bahrainan dinhar. The first pursuers' basic position therefore is that he is looking for compensation in respect that Tareq would have supported him now that his income is significantly reduced. The second pursuer's claim in this respect is similar. Pursuers' counsel submitted that claim is based on the religious and family law of Bahrain, and also on section 1 of the Damages (Scotland) Act 1976. The pursuers claim that the promises made by Tareq reflected an obligation of maintenance recognised by the Shiriah or religious courts in Bahrain. The obligation of financial support for parents arises when they become elderly or poor and extends, according to the pursuers' submissions, to any form of financial support. These financial expectations were recognised in the Scottish Courts, it was said, by the terms of section 1(6) of the 1976 Act and on the authority of the cases of Taff Vale Railway Co v Jenkins 1913 AC 1 and Kandela v British United Airlines 1981 1 QB 158. Further, the obligation of maintenance extends to promises made by Tareq to subsidise the education of his brothers Talal and Amr. At the time of Tareq's death, Talal was doing a pre-university year in Ireland prior to embarking upon a medical degree there. As a result of Tareq's death, Talal understandably was unable to complete this course. However, it was anticipated that the cost of Talal's education in Ireland would have been beyond the ability of the first pursuer to support once he had retired, and again Tareq had promised his parents that when he had completed his flying course and obtained employment as a pilot, he would support Talal's university course.

[23]It is agreed that Talal's six year medical course in Ireland, had he been accepted to study medicine at the Royal College of Surgeons in Dublin, would have occasioned applicable fees and living expenses during the six year period commencing October 1994 of £117,000. In fact, Talal underwent tertiary education in France over that general period at a net cost of £33,000. Counsel for the pursuers therefore took a mid-point in these two sums of £102,000 to represent Talal's actual loss of financial support over that period. Further, it is agreed in respect of Amr, that his tuition fees at the Bahrain School for the academic years 1995/6 to 2001/2 amounted to 11,700 Bahrainan dinhars and estimated tuition fees at the said school for the academic years 2002/3 to 2007/8 at 13,595 Bahrainan dinhars. The first pursuer's own claim for loss of support on his retirement was simply based on the difference between what he had earned (approximately 1800 dinhars) and his current position, 1084 dinhars. The first pursuer, it was argued, was entitled to expect a level of support from Tareq that would make good that difference. Further, based on the relevant tables, the first pursuer qualified for fifteen years support at that level. The second pursuer's life expectation according to the same tables was twenty-one years. It was suggested that the figure representing the difference between the pursuer's final salary and his pension should be shared equally between the first and second pursuers. The pursuers' counsel's calculations in respect of these matters therefore produced claims for the first and second pursuer respectively of £150,000 and £210,000.

[24]I concluded however that there was a number of difficulties concerning the pursuers' calculations and claims for loss of financial support. First of all, it has to be remembered that Tareq's ability to support his family, assuming such an obligation existed, would have to be based on his ability to earn in a career other than that as a pilot. The pursuers' case was based on the assumption that Tareq would have qualified as a computer programme or operator. However, it is clear that he would not have qualified in that discipline until well after the point at which he would have qualified as a pilot had he been able to complete his training course. Prior to embarking upon his pilot's training course, he had completed about three quarters of a preparatory course in computing which would have allowed him to be considered for a university place. The pursuers' case appeared to be based on the premise that Tareq Shaher would have qualified as a computer engineer within a year or two of 1993. The evidence of Mr Nyala, which I considered to be clear and authoritative on this and other matters, indicated that in order to get into the only university in Bahrain where a computer degree or diploma was available, Tareq Shaher would have to have passed an interview. This was because the university is only open to students who have attended state schools in Bahrain for twelve years, and Tareq (like his brothers) had attended private schools. If Tareq had been accepted for a place at the university following his interview (and this would have been in the Autumn of 1994 at the earliest), he would then have required four years to complete a degree course and three years to complete a diploma. He would then have had to find a job. Accordingly he would not have been employed until, in all probability, the autumn of 1998. This has a number of consequences for the pursuers' claims for loss of financial support. Firstly, Mr Peter Davies, an employment specialist who gave evidence for the pursuers, based his predictions on Tareq's employment and salary on the view that he would be earning within a year of the accident happening. His predictions are therefore based on the economics and favourable conditions prevalent at that time for computer engineers. More importantly, it appears to be clear that Mr Davis was led to understand and that Tareq Shaher's academic qualification related to a university course when in fact they represented secondary school qualifications. Further, by the time that Tareq began earning, presumably sometime in 1998 or 1999, Talal should have completed his medical studies in Ireland. During that period, the first named pursuer would have been in full-time employment. In these circumstances, there would have been no opportunity for Tareq Shaher to have made any financial contribution to his family until that time.

[25]There were other difficulties with the pursuers' approach to the financial support claimed. Tareq's ability to support his father, his mother, and the educational needs of his two brothers was premised on him having a preliminary salary for a period of about five years in the region of £25,000. In order to support the various claims made by his family it was accepted that Tareq would have had to have devoted three quarters of his gross income for those purposes. There was no basis in the evidence for any of these figures, and they therefore required to be based entirely on speculation.

[26]However, there were more fundamental objections to the pursuers' claims for financial support. First of all the obligations of maintenance under Shiriah law are in respects of parents who are elderly and poor. In Bahrainian terms the first pursuer (and by implication the second pursuer also) cannot be regarded as poor. The obligation of maintenance is, according to Mr Nyala, in respect of livelihood, housing, clothing and food. The obligation is concerned with the immediate needs of the parents and not to maintain their standard of living. The first pursuer made it clear in evidence that, so far as his personal situation was concerned, he had devoted so much of his income to the education of his children that his material possessions were not of a standard that his income and earnings over many years would justify. His house and furniture were simple and old, he had an old car, and he had old clothes. However, I think it was implicit even in the evidence of Professor Zahara, the expert witness on Shiriah law produced by the pursuers, that the obligation of maintenance in respect of parents related to the necessities of life rather than to an improvement in the standard of living. In respect of the question of maintenance I preferred the evidence of Mr Nyala, a practising solicitor who had experience of such claims in the Shiriah Court. He did not in any way disagree in principle with the views expressed by Professor Zahara on the question of filial maintenance as recognised by the laws and religion of Bahrain, but he indicated that this analysis had failed to include a number of important disqualifications in his description of the obligation. In particular, Mr Nyala made it clear that the obligation of maintenance in respect of brothers and sisters ceased when the brothers and sisters in question achieved puberty. In these circumstances, neither brother would have had any financial claim on the deceased. While I accept pursuers' counsel's submission that the claims before this court are not strictly based on legal rights and duties under Bahrainian law, but rather on the pursuers' financial expectations, nonetheless the net effect of the expert evidence for the defenders was very significantly to diminish, if not wholly remove, those expectations in practice. While I have no doubt that Tareq would have offered some financial support to his parents should they have required it, and perhaps also contributed to the expenses of the education of Amr, I was not in any way convinced that the measure of that support would resemble the significant claims made by the pursuers in this respect. On any view of the evidence, any support that could have been offered by Tareq Shaher in this respect would have been far more modest than that claimed by the pursuers. Having regard to the uncertainty of predicting Tareq's earning capacity should he have left the flying school, and bearing in mind the very reduced expectation of financial support that Bahrainian law and custom could properly offer in these circumstances, I am not satisfied that any form of claim for financial support for any of the pursuers under and in terms of Scots law has been made out. Ultimately, any claim for financial support must be determined according to the law of this jurisdiction, and custom and practice in Bahrain can only indicate in general circumstances what that measure of support might be. As I have concluded that this measure of support would not have been significant in the overall scheme of things, and is not based on any proven legal obligation, and further bearing in mind that such awards in our system are only nominal in any event, no award in respect of the pursuers' claims for financial loss cam be made.

[27]As far as loss of society is concerned, it is however clear that both the first and second pursuers as individuals must be regarded as having a significant claim in respect of the death of their son. Although the institution of family is always important in Muslim countries, I am satisfied on the evidence that there were particular bonds of affection within this particular family. The commitment to his children on the part of the first pursuer was very evident, and clearly he has throughout his working life accepted considerable financial sacrifices in order to give the best possible education to his children. The second pursuer spoke in the most eloquent terms of the nature of her loss. I was very impressed by the evidence of the pursuers in this matter, and I accept that in particular the loss of the eldest son has a special significance. Current jury awards, which are the only recent guidance available, suggest that awards for loss of society should be between £30,000 and £35,000 for each parent. I refer to Strang v Le Brusq, 2001 Green's Rep. L.R. 52. In these circumstances I see no reason why the first pursuer as an individual and the second pursuer in the present case should not be award £35,000 each for their claim for loss of society. As I have concluded that contributory negligence on the part of the deceased amounts to 50%, the award in each case is £17,500. I accept that interest should run at the rate of 4% on half of those sums sum from the date of death until the present. Interest at 4% on £8,750 from 15 September 1993 to date (8 years 8 months) amounts to £3,114, making the total award for loss of society to each of the first and second pursuer to be the sum of £20,614. I therefore sustain the first plea-in-law for the pursuers in part, and the fourth (in part) and the sixth pleas-in-law for the defenders. In addition, the defenders are assoilzied from the second and third conclusions of the summons.

[28]I have reserved the question of expenses.