In legal parlance, ‘consortium’ is a compendious term which encompasses ‘spousal consortium’, ‘parental consortium’, and ‘filial consortium’. The right to consortium would include the company, care, help, comfort, guidance, solace and affection of the deceased.

With respect to a spouse, it would include sexual relations with the deceased spouse. Parental consortium is granted to the child upon the premature death of a parent, for loss of ‘parental aid, protection, affection, society, discipline, guidance and training’. Filial consortium is the right of the parents to compensation in the case of an accidental death of a child.

Consortium is a special prism reflecting changing norms about the status and worth of actual relationships. The amount of compensation to be awarded will be governed by the principles laid down in Pranay Sethi, (2017) 16 SCC 680.”

Hon’ble Justice Indu Malhotra, Magma General Insurance Company Ltd., [Civil Appeal No. 9581 of 2018].

Placing a value on a loss of companionship is as difficult as estimating the impact of a defamatory statement. Centuries ago, the master-servant model of marital relations relegated the wife to a socially inferior position and precluded her from having any legal entitlement to the services of her husband. Although many aspects of consortium law have yielded to change as the common law doctrine has evolved, one element has remained constant: the restriction of loss of consortium claims to partners in a legally recognized marital relationship. Nearly all decisions have assumed without discussion that legal marriage is a required element of proof in a loss of consortium action. Magma is a step ahead of Pranay Sethi. There are miles to go before we sleep.