Their purpose is to make it easier to calculate future losses in personal injury and fatal accident cases. The tables take into account life expectancy and provide a range of discount rates from 0.0% to 5.0% in steps of 0.5%. The discount rate is fixed by the Lord Chancellor. The most recent edition of the tables also sets out a method for taking into account contingencies other than mortality.
The full, and official, name of the tables is 'Actuarial Tables with explanatory notes for use in Personal Injury and Fatal Accident Cases' but the unofficial name became common parlance following the Civil Evidence Act 1995, where this shorthand name was used as a subheading - Sir Michael Ogden QC having been the chairman of the Working Party for the first four editions