Personal Injury Brief: market insights December 2022
A summary of key developments including the key civil justice priorities for the Civil Justice Council and Ministry of Justice, the discount rate in England and Wales, fixed recoverable costs, and the Health and Safety Executive’s annual report.
The future of civil justice: key priorities for 2023 and beyond
The Civil Justice Council’s 11th National Forum on Access to Justice took place on 18 November 2022. Against the background of a digital civil justice system, Sir Geoffrey Vos, Master of the Rolls, opened the event by summarising the work programme of the Civil Justice Council, namely:
- Pre-action protocols/pre-action portals.
- Holistic review of costs to include, costs budgeting, guideline hourly rates, pre-action protocols and the digital justice system, and the wider consequences of extending fixed recoverable costs.
- Taking a long-term view of the impact of technology on the administration of justice, by way of the Futures Group.
- Procedures relating to mental capacity in civil proceedings.
Lord Bellamy KC, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, also outlined the five main topics on the Ministry of Justice’s radar in relation to civil justice:
- Civil legal aid and legal support.
- Dispute resolution.
- HMCTS court reform.
- Fixed recoverable costs.
- Looking to the future – a joined up seamless system of modern civil justice.
These topics will no doubt continue to inform engagement opportunities with stakeholders such as consultations, Civil Procedure Rule changes and legislative developments in 2023 and beyond.
Contact: Fiona Hamilton-Wood
Discount rate in England and Wales: a dual rate?
The Ministry of Justice has been engaging with stakeholders over the past month in advance of the next formal review of the personal injury discount rate in England and Wales (PIDR), which must begin by 15 July 2024.
A number of roundtables took place in November 2022, in addition to the launch of the recruitment process for the expert panel to the Lord Chancellor. Looking ahead to 2023, the government expects that a public consultation similar to the one undertaken ahead of the last rate review will form part of the evidence gathering exercise, but that will be a decision for the expert panel to take once they have been constituted.
Separately to this, the Ministry of Justice will be engaging with stakeholders and issuing a Call for Evidence seeking additional evidence and views on the introduction of dual or multiple rates. We expect the Call for Evidence to be launched in mid-January 2023, and to remain open for 10 to 12 weeks.
Fixed recoverable costs and the intermediate track
At the Civil Justice Council National Forum event on 18 November 2022, Lord Bellamy announced that the planned extension of fixed recoverable costs for most money cases worth up to £100,000, will be delayed by a further six months from April to October 2023.
This announcement came only weeks after the Civil Procedure Rule Committee’s minutes from its October meeting were released, which note that the UK Government has decided to introduce a separate ‘intermediate’ track for cases worth £25,000 to £100,000. This development rather came as a surprise given that the intermediate track was initially recommended by Sir Jackson in 2017, adopted in the UK Government’s 2019 consultation, but later dropped following the UK Government’s long-awaited report published in September 2021.
Related item: Watch this space: fixed recoverable costs are coming
Employee mental health - Health and Safety Executive publishes its annual report
According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), there were an estimated 914,000 cases of work-related stress, depression, or anxiety in 2021/2022 (an 11.2% increase on the previous year) with an estimated 17 million working days lost as a result. However, the number of new cases of work-related ill stress, depression and anxiety fell by 17.5% on the previous year, from 451,000 in 2020/2021 to 372,000.
Whilst in the years prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the rate of self-reported work-related ill health had been broadly flat, the HSE notes that the current rate is higher than the 2018/2019 pre-coronavirus levels. Further, in 2021/2022 the effects of the pandemic were found to be a contributory factor to musculoskeletal disorders.
The statistics highlight the impact work-related ill health is having on the UK’s economic performance including “36.8 million working days being lost due to work-related ill health and non-fatal workplace injuries in 2021/2022”. The annual economic cost of work-related injury and new cases of ill health (excluding long latency illnesses such as cancer) was £18.8 billion in 2019/2020.
This report offers a timely reminder to employers with regard to their legal duties to protect and support their employees.