Claim limit slated

THE Law Commission is set to abandon controversial plans to introduce a 30-year “long-stop limitation period” in personal injury cases after the proposal caused uproar among PI lawyers.

The Law Commission’s head of common law, Professor Andrew Burrows, told The Lawyer last week it was “unlikely” the commission would go ahead with the plan, which was attacked by delegates at the PEOPIL conference.

Currently the limitation period for personal injury cases is three years from the diagnoses of the injury or illness, but the commission argued a “long-stop” limit was also needed to give greater security to defendants.

PI specialist Nigel Tomkins branded the plans a “retrograde step” potentially affecting thousands of cases, before delegates at the Barcelona conference.

Tomkins, a specialist in asbestos cases and a member of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers’ executive, said the proposal could potentially halve the numbers of people able to bring actions for asbestos-related diseases, which can have an incubation period of more than 50 years.

He described the plans as a “book-keeping convenience or insurance companies”.But Professor Burrows retorted: “We are an independent body and there has been no lobbying whatsoever.”

He added: “We are formulating a way of modifying this proposal in such a way that we retain the merits of the original version.”