Personal injury (PI) lawyers called on ministers to think twice before introducing fixed fees for workplace accident claims, following the publication of a second report by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) into employers’ liability this year.
The Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (Apil) said it was "far too soon" to consider the introduction of fixed fees in work-place accident claims. "Even low-value claims for accidents in the workplace can be extremely complicated," said Apil president David Marshall. "Apil has been instrumental in introducing fixed fees to low-value, straightforward traffic claims which settle without the need for court proceedings, but to begin discussions about introducing such a scheme to a much more complex area of the law before the new scheme is reviewed in two years’ time is dangerously premature." Earlier in the year the DWP published a report on employers’ liability, highlighting concerns that premiums had shot up by 50 per cent since 1997.
Last week, Law Zone reported on the Forum of Insurance Lawyers’ annual conference, where the Master of the Rolls Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers called on ministers to "reaffirm a commitment to take forward rehabilitation and provide more proposals on how it may be delivered" in its new paper. The new paper includes proposals for a new framework for vocational rehabilitation. Marshall welcomed the DWP’s "continued commitment" to rehabilitation for injured employees.
Meanwhile, DLA’s insurance group has launched a PI mediation campaign. The project is led by Alan Jacobs and Matthew Hirst, both partners in the firm’s insurance group and both mediators at the Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution. "Both the Civil Procedure Rules and the case law require parties to consider whether alternative dispute resolution, including mediation, is appropriate. However, personal injury practitioners have been reluctant to embrace mediation, alleging that personal injury is a ‘special case’," they said.
The project includes a study next year into the use of mediation in PI disputes and an annual prize for the insurer which does most to encourage the development of PI mediation. The launch was attended by Lord Justice Brooke, vice-president of the Court of Appeal.