COVID-19 impact on English and Scottish Personal Injury Claims
Coronavirus outbreak has already shown its great impact on the legal sector. Law firms specialising in personal injury claims are facing unprecedented challenges due to the wide spread of Covid-19.
Scotland: The Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) and the Association of British Insurers (ABI) have found a new co-operative approach to maintain effective dispute resolution of personal injury claims during these unprecedented times.
The two representative bodies have agreed that parties should take a consensual approach in relation to time limits. Thus, for the purposes of sections 17 and 18 of the Prescription and Limitation (Scotland) Act 1973, in respect of any claim for damages for personal injuries which would otherwise “time bar” in accordance with ‘the 1973 Act’ between 30 March 2020 and 20 April 2020 (“the limitation period”, no limitation defence will be raised by the parties in respect of said period.
Moreover, the parties and their representatives should not take unfair advantage of a party failing to comply with a procedural requirement and are expected to behave sensibly during the coronavirus crisis. The agreement will be reviewed no later than the 13th of April.
A full list of signatories for Scottish cases can be found in the following link: https://www.abi.org.uk/globalassets/files/subject/public/coronavirus/covid19-scotland-agreement-list-of-firms-090420.pdf The firms that wish to add their details to this list, they should provide their firm’s name, an escalation email address and hotline phone number by emailing email@example.com
England and Wales: As a reasonable response to the coronavirus crisis a new ‘Coronavirus (Covid-19) Personal Injury Protocol’ was agreed and put into effect in England and Wales in order to mitigate the impact of Covid-19. The subject agreed Protocol serves as an extension to the Personal Injury Protocol and it is effective from the 24th of March for a minimum of 4 weeks-until the 20th of April 2020, with a review to take place the week commencing 13th of April. The Lord Chief Justice may have amended the CPR and pre-action protocols by then in any event, to include a moratorium on limitation.
The Covid-19 Protocol was launched in the United Kingdom by the Association of British Insurers (ABI) in cooperation with law firms. The Protocol is already signed by many insurers and law firms and a full list of signatories can be found in the following link: https://www.abi.org.uk/globalassets/files/subject/public/coronavirus/covid19-protocol-list-of-firms-090420.pdf
According to the agreed Covid-19 Personal Injury Protocol, all limitation dates in all personal injury cases are frozen and claimants undertake to respond constructively to the Defendants’ requests for extensions of time to serve a Defence. Furthermore, each signatory must have an escalation process in place. According to this process any issue arising by a party’s failure to comply with the Covid-19 Protocol, is referred to an email and/or telephone ‘hotline’ which is specifically established for this situation, unless it can be resolved between the parties. Last but not least, a commitment is made that the email and telephone ‘hotline’ will be monitored regularly and referred to senior members within the relevant organisations, who will be able to make a swift decision as to whether the stance being taken should be adjusted or not in light of prevailing circumstances.
The firms which wish to be included in the list of signatories, they should provide their firm’s name, an escalation email address and hotline phone number by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org The email and telephone number should be a main contact for escalation of requests for extensions of time under the protocol.
Despite these difficult times, our shipping and litigation team remain on hand to assist our clients wherever needed. Meantime, we hope everyone will stay safe and well.
Anna Kaparaki MSc, LL.M., Solicitor at Mackinnons Solicitors LLP, Lecturer in Maritime Law at Liverpool John Moores University