Personal injury group chooses talk over politics

A NEW pan-European group for personal injury lawyers has agreed to become a talking shop rather than a pressure group lobbying for reform.

At its inaugural conference in Amsterdam last month, the Pan-European Organisation of Personal Injury Lawyers (Peopil) decided to allow lawyers acting for both defendants and plaintiffs into the group.

The decision prevents the group from acting as a political force – as in the case of the plaintiff-only Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (Apil) in the UK – because defendant and plaintiff lawyers have contrary interests.

Peopil will hold an annual conference, run training courses, develop special interest groups, produce a newsletter and encourage lawyers across Europe to share knowledge.

Workshops at the conference, which attracted more than 120 people from 18 different countries including the US, uncovered “vast” differences between the many jurisdictions, according to one delegate Nigel Tomkins, a senior litigation manager at Thompsons.

Such differences included “whiplash” claims from vehicle collisions, which account for 90 per cent of cases in the Netherlands, but are not recognised by German authorities, and the UK period of limitation, which does not exist in the Netherlands.

An attempt to secure European Union funding for the organisation now looks “90 per cent” certain of success, according to Apil chair Caroline Harmer. She said that funding would be used for translation facilities.