The Civil Justice Council (CJC) group asked by the Ministry of Justice to investigate noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) claims is to look at how a fixed-costs regime might work, it has been announced.
The group is being chaired by leading defendant solicitor Andrew Parker, head of strategic litigation at DAC Beachcroft, with David Marshall – former president of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers and currently chairman of the Law Society’s civil justice committee – as vice-chairman.
The government asked the CJC in July to take on the project, and in addition to looking at fixed costs for NIHL cases – “and perhaps other similar cases” – the working group is to investigate how the handling of claims might be improved by both claimant and defendant representatives, including specifically how evidence is obtained and presented.
The newly published terms of reference for the group make it clear that the initial work on fixed fees will relate to the possible structure of such a regime, rather than the actual fees themselves.
“The group may outline more than one optional structure. The structure(s) will be informed by the proposals for improved handling under [the second limb of the work], which could include both pre‐ and post‐issue procedures and the way in which medical evidence is commissioned.”
It is envisaged that the working group will operate in two stages. First, having identified the concerns of both claimants and defendants and their lawyers over the conduct of NIHL claims, “it will discuss and agree broad ideas for handling cases that would help meet those concerns. It will also outline a possible overall structure (or structures) for a fixed costs system”.
Second, in the light of initial feedback from the Ministry of Justice, it will look in more detail at how these could be implemented.
“This work may include recommendations as to the level of fixed costs themselves or how they could be calculated.”
The group aims to make an initial report to the CJC by no later than November 2015 and a final report to the council’s April 2016 meeting.
The other members of the working group are:
- Cenric Clement‐Evans, solicitor, NewLaw;
- Bridget Collier, principal lawyer, Fentons Solicitors (part of Slater & Gordon);
- Ian Harvey, senior claims manager, Aviva;
- Karen Jackson, chief executive, Roberts Jackson;
- Roland Jackson, head of legacy exposures, UKGI – Technical Claims Services;
- John Latter, director of technical centre, Zurich Insurance;
- Nick Parsons, partner and head of insurance & public risk, Browne Jacobson;
- Dominic Weir, principal lawyer, Leo Abse & Cohen (part of Slater & Gordon); and
- An as-yet unnamed district judge, along with officials from both the Ministry of Justice (including head of civil litigation funding and costs Robert Wright) and the Civil Justice Council.