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MoJ reveals potential new discount rate

Lord Chancellor David Lidington (pictured) has today (Thursday) unveiled a new basis for setting the discount rate for personal injury claims.
The changes, proposed in draft legislation for England and Wales, mean the rate would be set by reference to a ‘low risk’ mixed portfolio of investments, rather than of the ‘very low risk’ or ‘no risk’ index-linked gilts. The Ministry of Justice estimates that if the new system was applied today the rate might be set between 0 per cent and 1 per cent.

“We need to examine the detail of the Ministry of Justice’s response, but what I can say is that the new formula for calculating the rate will be critical to injured people,” said APIL president Brett Dixon in an initial comment for the press.

“The last thing people with devastating injuries think about when they are lying in hospital is their insurance premiums. They think about how they are going to manage. Insurers say an increased discount rate will ‘benefit’ customers through their premiums. It is of no benefit if they are severely injured and forced to take risks with the compensation they so desperately need,” he said.

Read Brett’s full comment on the BBC News website here.

Read the announcement in full here. The Government’s response paper is here.

See the News section for an update on the discount rate in Scotland.


Fixed costs proposals for hearing loss claims published

Recommendations for fixed costs and improvements to claims management in noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) claims were published in the final report of the Civil Justice Council’s (CJC) working group yesterday.
The group’s recommendations include early disclosure of audiograms and a new form for a letter of claim.
APIL representatives sat on the working group. “A key concern for APIL is that standard directions are needed across all courts nationwide, much like in mesothelioma cases, so that the way in which these cases are run can become much more predictable and will prevent costs from building up,” said APIL president Brett Dixon in a comment for the press.

“The Government must recognise that fixed costs are only workable if applied in conjunction with the various improvements identified by the working group,” he added.

The Master of the Rolls and chairman of the CJC Sir Terence Etherton, said: “I have written to the Lord Chancellor to commend the report and ask for its recommendations to be considered as part of the forthcoming wider review of fixed costs.”

Review of civil justice in NI

APIL’s recommendations for a more robust pre-action protocol for personal injury claims in Northern Ireland have been incorporated into Lord Justice Gillen’s review of civil justice.

Gillen LJ’s wide-ranging Review Group Report on Civil Justice, published earlier this week, also recommends a narrower approach to disclosure, and a move towards paperless courts. The report recommends that a High Court judge-led working group should consider the possibility of conditional fees, qualified one-way costs shifting, and greater use of ATE insurance. Also proposed is an increase in the County Court jurisdiction to £60,000.

Lord Justice Gillen recommends that a body such as the Civil Justice Council should be established to oversee the recommendations. The Lord Chief Justice of Northern Ireland will now forward the report to the Department of Justice for consideration.

APIL’s response to the review group’s preliminary consultation can be found here.


Legislative agenda includes discount rate Bill

Legislation to amend the law on the discount rate is to be introduced into the Scottish Parliament.

The changes, which have not yet been revealed, will be included in a forthcoming Damages Bill which will also make it possible for Scottish courts to impose periodical payment orders.

The Scottish Government would usually set the discount rate in Scotland in line with the rate in England and Wales. This will be the first time it has introduced primary legislation on the issue.

News of the Bill came ahead of the Ministry of Justice’s own announcement on the discount rate and forms part of the Scottish Government’s legislative agenda for 2017-18.

The Scottish Government’s Programme for Government, which can be read here, also includes a Prescription Bill. According to the Scottish Government the Bill, which will implement recommendations of a Scottish Law Commission report, will “ensure the law of negative prescription is clear and fair”.

No details have yet been announced as to when either Bill will be introduced.

National Audit Office reports on NHS legal costs

Learning from avoidable harm is “crucial” to reducing the cost of negligence for the NHS, APIL said yesterday after the National Audit Office (NAO) published its report Managing the costs of clinical negligence in trusts.

The NAO said rising costs were related to higher damages awards, higher lawyer fees, and more claims. But it laid out recommendations for better data collection to identify where harm is caused and to learn lessons.

“APIL has called for better data collection and co-ordination for years so that repeated harm can be prevented and opportunities for learning are not lost,” said APIL president Brett Dixon. “We are just starting to see the impact of cuts to legal costs which will continue to streamline claimant costs significantly. But more savings could be made with co-operation on both sides to avoid unnecessary delays and additional work, rather than simply slashing claimant lawyers’ costs further or denying injured patients full compensation.”

“Let’s not forget that the overriding concern here should be the cost in human misery,” he added.

Click here to read the report.

Vice president defends QOCS protection

Predictions of an influx of fraudulent claims in Scotland as a result of the civil litigation Bill “have absolutely no basis in evidence” said APIL vice president Gordon Dalyell this week.

Gordon responded to a comment piece by defendant representative Vikki Melville in The Scotsman. Ms Melville called for the qualified one-way costs shifting benefit in Scotland to be withdrawn from a pursuer in circumstances where there is fundamental dishonesty on the part of the pursuer.

“The Civil Litigation (Expenses and Group Proceedings) (Scotland) Bill does indeed introduce measures to protect people, who have been injured through no fault of their own, from having the pay the costs of bringing valid claims,” said Gordon, in a published letter.
“These measures reflect the recommendations of an independent and detailed review by Sheriff Principal James Taylor, which were evidence based, and designed to improve access to justice for vulnerable people. There are already safeguards in the Bill to ensure fraudulent and other unmeritorious claims are excluded from these safeguards,” he said.

Read Gordon’s response in full here.


Vacancies on the APIL executive committee

This year both the positions of APIL treasurer and secretary are up for re-election. Any APIL members who would like to express an interest in either of these positions should contact the APIL office for more details and a copy of the job description. Both roles are for a two-year position on the executive committee. Nominations for officer roles will be finalised in November with the election taking place in early January 2018 before the main executive committee member elections. Contact maria.holmes@apil.org.uk for more information or to express an interest.

Professional indemnity insurance offer

APIL has worked with St Giles Legal & Professional Risks to help members and their firms secure the most attractive terms for their professional indemnity insurance.

As an APIL membership benefit, St Giles is offering all APIL members a 2.5 per cent discount on any quote provided from the 15 insurers to which St Giles has access.

To take advantage of this APIL discount, contact sharon.smith@apil.org.uk who will provide a personal verification code. You may use a proposal form which has already been completed, but be sure to include your verification code.

The St Giles proposal form is here. Please complete and send it along with your claims summaries and code to response@stgilespi.co.uk.

New additions to the expert database

Five new experts joined APIL’s database of experts in August. They are:

  • Mr Michael Gomm, technology consultant, Chipping Norton
  • Mr Daniel Jacklin, health and safety consultant, Boston
  • Dr Stephen Lipscombe, consultant orthopaedic surgeon, Chester
  • Mr Richard Pyper, consultant in obstetrics & gynaecology, Storrington
  • Dr Imran Waheed, consultant in general adult psychiatry, Birmingham
  • Mr Andrew Kaye, a consulting engineer in Hartlepool and Dr Paul Rogers, registered psychiatric nurse/cognitive behavioural therapist in Cardiff re-joined the database.

To find experts on the APIL expert database log onto the APIL website or call Jacqui Newman on 0115 9435437.

CCMCC ‘age of work’ figures

CCMCC’s age of work information helps members gauge how long it will take for their new claims, applications and other items to be processed by the court. The numbers below show how many working days, (following the date of receipt by CCMCC) it is taking for each type of work to be processed.

Here is the ‘age of work’ as at 7 September.

Claim issue 12
AOS 12
Defences 12
Judgments 12
Applications to be processed/orders drawn 23
Correspondence 12
Direction Questionnaires 12
Charging Orders – issue 11
Charging orders to be drafted, post making of judicial order* 11
Attachment of Earnings 11

*Currently processing orders made on 17-08-2017


Online conversations this week
  • Mobility scooters covered by MedCo?
  • Academy or Academy Trust on claim form?
  • D wants C’s post accident DWP records
  • Agreeing to set aside judgment
  • Obtaining second medical report in PL case
  • Large piece of plaster fell on tenant’s head – shall I take this case?
  • C stepped back off lorry after large gust of wind, broke both heels – shall I take this case?

Don’t forget that you can search for insurers or witnesses in our Insurers forum. Scottish members can share experiences about the PI Sheriff Court. Looking for an expert? Head over to our dedicated Experts Forum. Or come and have a chat in our Social forum.

MoJ reveals potential new discount rate
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