Fixed costs for deafness claims proposed

A woman holding her hand to ear and looking puzzled

The Civil Justice Council has recommended a system of fixed costs for noise-induced hearing loss claims.

In its final report, the Civil Justice Council working party published a framework of fixed legal costs applying to NIHL claims which are to be put forward to the Justice Department.

The recommendations for fixed costs include pre and post-litigation costs and the Council has proposed restricting fixed costs to cases that can be fast-tracked.

Master of the Rolls and chairman of the Council, Sir Terence Etherton, said that the complex nature of NIHL claims means that fixed costs need to be implemented.

“These claims present with special characteristics. Their complexity and the importance of having a timely resolution point to their needing a specific fixed costs regime that is complementary but not identical to a more general fixed costs system as proposed by Lord Justice Jackson in his recent review,” said Etherton.

“The group’s recommendations go beyond fixed costs with a number of proposals to streamline the processes for such claims and encourage earlier settlement or resolution of cases. These cover both the pre- and post-litigation stages.”

The recommended maximum total costs of post and pre-litigation costs for one, two or three defendants are £9187, £10724 or £12261 respectively.

Brett Dixon, president of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers, said that the recommendations must be applied nationwide in order to have a notable impact.

“Fixed costs must not restrict the work a lawyer needs to carry out for an injured person’s claim to run, but fixed costs could work in a more efficient system,” said Dixon.

“A key concern for APIL post-issue is that standard directions are needed across all courts nationwide, much like in mesothelioma cases, so that the way in which these cases are run can become much more predictable and will prevent costs from building up. The Government must recognise that fixed costs are only workable if applied in conjunction with the various improvements identified by the working group.”

DAC Beachcroft partner and head of strategic litigation, Andrew Parker, worked alongside Civil Justice to put forward the recommendations which he said will improve how NIHL claims are settled.

“The proposals we came up with will cover a significant majority of NIHL claims,” said Parker. 

“The fixed costs which we’ve put forward were agreed by all sides as a fair outcome and, together with changes we also suggested such as requiring claimants to provide more detailed letters of claim that include an audiogram from an accredited audiologist, should see a real improvement in how NIHL claims are handled.”

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