The Changing Landscape of Civil Liability

26th April 2018

The Changing Landscape of Civil Liability

The civil justice system is currently stacked more against personal injury claimants than it ever has been and this will only get worse with further reform due next year under the Civil Liability Bill.

Some of the key areas in which victims of personal injury incidents will be disadvantaged are:

  • Claimants injured by another’s negligence are no longer able to recover their full legal costs from the defendant.
  • The court fees that claimants now have to pay to start their claims have increased by over 600% in the last 5 years.
  • Strict liability has been removed from the health and safety regulations meaning that the evidential burden on claimants injured in the workplace is much higher.

The result of this is that motor claim accidents have reduced by around 20% in the last 5 years and workplace accident claims have reduced by 30% over the same period.

On top of all of this, claimants that do pursue their claims at court now do so in the full knowledge that if they are found to have been fundamentally dishonest by a Judge, their entire claim can be struck out, they can be ordered to pay the defendant’s full costs and they could be the subject of criminal proceedings. Conversely, there are no equivalent sanctions to deter defendants from dishonest when defending claims.

Therefore, defendant solicitors are now routinely instructing agents to conduct surveillance of claimants knowing that one small piece of footage which appears to be inconsistent with the claimant’s case will put huge pressure on the claimant to significantly compromise their claim or even withdraw it. If defendants fail to obtain any surveillance which is helpful to their case, claimants are unlikely to ever know about it.

The case law on what amounts to ‘fundamental dishonesty’ has not been entirely consistent and the judgment in the latest case of Wright -v- Satellite Information Services Ltd [2018] shows that each allegation of fundamental dishonesty will be decided based on the individual circumstances of the case. This is not entirely helpful for claimants or defendants but we welcome this judicial interpretation which takes into account the fact that claimants will normally be inclined to focus on what their symptoms are like at their worst when discussing their injuries with medical experts and when describing their symptoms and capabilities in witness evidence. As long as this is not found to have been done in order to deliberately inflate the value of the claimant’s claim, there is scope for a Judge to find that misleading information does not amount to fundamental dishonesty.

How can Gotelee help?

If you have suffered injury in an accident that was no fault of your own, you could be entitled to compensation. 

Our personal injury lawyers have helped thousands of people with their claims for compensation after an accident or illness that has impacted on their lives and their family’s lives. We will fight to recover compensation for you, to protect your best interests and support you through every step of the claims process.

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