People seriously hurt at work could endure delays in receiving their compensation if changes are made to an annex to the pre-action protocol in workplace personal injury cases.
The Civil Procedure Rule Committee (CPRC) is considering changes to the guidance attached to the pre-action protocol relating to standard disclosure in workplace injury cases, which applies ahead of commencing proceedings in court.
The Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) has warned the move will cause confusion and delays for all parties, as well as the courts.
“The proposal will strip out much of the detail from the list of documents that should be disclosed in workplace injury cases. This might seem like merely simplifying matters but it includes adding ambiguous language, which will inevitably lead to ineffective disclosure and important information could be withheld - either intentionally or unintentionally,” explained APIL secretary Brett Dixon.
APIL has responded to a consultation by the CPRC on making amendments to annex C of the pre-action protocol to reflect current regulations and health and safety obligations.
Mr Dixon said: “The annex does need updating but to add ambiguous phrases with no clear definition will misrepresent the test for standard disclosure in the rules.
“The starting point in the Civil Procedure Rules is that all documents which meet the test for standard disclosure should be disclosed unless a party states it would be disproportionate to disclose a particular one. The new wording gives the impression the starting point is that only documents the party deems to be proportionate need to be disclosed. This will cause delays and end up taking up more of the courts’ time,” Mr Dixon went on.
“The suggested new wording will lead to disclosure being less effective. If key information is withheld in cases as a result of dumbed-down guidance it will not be possible to assess effectively whether a claim can be pursued.
“At the end of this process is a severely injured person who has had their life turned upside down through no fault of their own. They desperately need this compensation to pay for their care. They cannot afford delays because their case has been held up due to vagueness in the guidance,” he said.