An unprecedented collaboration between UK law firms and the insurance sector, spearheaded by Thompsons Solicitors and the Association of British Insurers (ABI), has so far seen more than 155 organisations sign up to a protocol designed to protect access to justice for injured claimants in the wake of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
Launched on 24 March 2020, the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Personal Injury Protocol called for personal injury solicitors – both defendant and claimant – and insurers to work together to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19).
The protocol has so far been adopted by 141 law firms and 17 insurance companies. Commenting on the reaction to the protocol to date, Thompsons Solicitors’ head of policy, Tom Jones, said: “The fact that more than 155 organisations on the front-line of providing legal services to injured people have signed up to the framework shows both the demand for a collaborative approach, and the threat to access to justice if no one had acted.
“That so many organisations have signed up to avoid sharp practice and enable cases to proceed as best as possible in the current extraordinary circumstances is encouraging. In the last few weeks, we’ve seen strangers showing a strong sense of community and willingness to help each other under such stressful and unprecedented circumstances. It is pleasing to see that solicitors for both claimants and defendants recognise the need to work together in the best interest of the clients at this time.”
The Protocol was commended by Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, Robert Buckland, during a Commons Select Committee hearing as “[encapsulating] what needs to be done, particularly in the field of personal injury, when it comes to being sensible about the impact of what is going on around us on proceedings.”
James Dalton, Director of General Insurance Policy, Association of British Insurers, said: “At this unprecedented time, insurers want to work together with others to continue to give claimants the help and support they need during this very difficult and worrying period. In order for personal injury claims to continue to progress, we have put this temporary protocol in place to deliver on that objective.”
The protocol was been put in place for a minimum of four weeks with a joint review taking place week commencing 13 April. By then the Lord Chief Justice’s office may have formal instructions in place but for now, organisations can pledge their commitment to the protocol on the ABI’s website at https://www.abi.org.uk/products-and-issues/choosing-the-right-insurance/motor-insurance/coronavirus-protocol/.