In the wake of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, leading figures from the UK legal and insurance sectors are working together to deliver an immediate, practical cross-industry protocol to protect access to justice for injured claimants.
A new ‘Coronavirus (COVID-19) Personal Injury Protocol’ was launched on 24 March 2020 by expert personal injury firm, Thompsons Solicitors, and the Association of British Insurers (ABI) and to ensure personal injury solicitors - both defendant and claimant - and insurers work together to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
Currently, there are hundreds of thousands of active personal injury claims in the UK, and the ABI and Thompsons are asking law firms and insurers to sign up to a protocol to ensure that neither party in a personal injury claim is unfairly impacted by coronavirus (COVID-19) disruption.
The protocol specifically targets any practical or procedural opportunism presented by coronavirus (COVID-19) related disruption. It calls for a pragmatic and flexible approach, whether that is to limitation periods, delays in submitting medical evidence or a defence, and seeks to recognise restrictions on attending hearings while social distancing guidance is in place.
Commenting on their work to establish the protocol with the ABI, Thompsons Solicitors’ head of policy, Tom Jones, said: “We have all needed to innovate because the normal rules governing the personal injury claims process have started to fray very fast. The threat to individual claimants and access to justice has become too great to ignore, and this protocol puts a practical framework in place.
“This protocol needs industry-wide support. Like coronavirus (COVID-19), the protocol doesn’t take sides but unlike coronavirus (COVID-19) it can help everyone – claimant solicitor or defendant insurer,” continued Mr Jones.
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 is being 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/.