The Civil Justice Council has set up a working group, to be chaired by Andrew Parker of DAC Beachcroft, to advise the present government as to the handling of noise induced hearing loss claims. Membership of the working group will represent solicitors, claims managers, insurers, the Ministry of Justice and the judiciary.
The focus of this working group as set out within its term of reference relates specifically to the following areas:
- How a fixed costs regime for NIHL cases (and perhaps other similar cases) might work, and;
- How the handling of NIHL claims might be improved by both Claimant and Defendant representatives (including how evidence is obtained and presented).
For those keeping a close eye on the proliferation of fixed costs regimes the working group will not be assessing (at this stage at least) the value of any proposed fees; rather it will be looking at a range of possible structures, no doubt drawing inspiration from those already in existence.
In order to increase the efficiency of litigation the areas likely to be closely examined are pre-issue procedures and the ways in which medical evidence is initially commissioned.
The first stage of the working group will be to examine the concerns of any lawyers (both Claimant and Defendant) raised in respect of delays or inefficiencies incurred in the handling of NIHL claims. The discussion will then inform the possible structures of any proposed fixed costs regime.
Further the working group aims to look not only at implementing a fixed costs regime, but (pursuant to advice from the Ministry of Justice) will seek to improve upon existing regimes. It may be that the findings of this consultation will have a wider impact upon litigation outside of NIHL claims.
The final report will (it is estimated) be available by April 2016, with a preliminary report due by November 2015.
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