The Bill has implications for access to justice for armed forces personnel injured through no fault of their own
Trevor Hall, a military claims specialist at Thompsons Solicitors, said: “The Overseas Operations Bill will place a strict six-year time limit on military personnel bringing a claim for injuries sustained serving abroad. This serves no purpose other than to deny them access to justice.
“While a personal injury claim involving non-military personnel has a limit of three years since the incident, courts have the ability to use discretion to extend this. Under these new rules what is available to the civilian is going to be denied to those who serve their country in the armed forces.
“Earlier this year we helped a soldier secure a six-figure settlement. He had suffered a debilitating injury due to exposure to cold weather conditions more than six years before. The sum helped cover the cost of ongoing treatment and his significant earnings loss because, through no fault of his own, he had lost his army career. Under the proposed new laws, the Ministry of Defence would use the strict deadline to shut down that soldier’s claim leaving him without a penny.
“The Bill also begs the question – why does the government no longer trust judges to make the right decision? Traditionally a conservative government has been proud of our legal system and the independence of our judges yet here we have them taking away their judicial powers. Perhaps this is all stems from Michael Gove’s infamous comment in 2016 that people have “had enough of experts”? Now whether in judicial reviews or road traffic accident claims or here in military injuries the independence of judges is being curtailed - it seems the government no longer respects our judges with the independence to make the right decision.
“The justification for shutting those injured through no fault of their own out from access to justice is that, according to the new Veteran’s Minister Leo Docherty, that these changes will affect ‘only’ six per cent of military claims and in any event Armed Forces personnel will continue to have access to the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme (AFCS). But that dismisses the claims of hundreds of injured people and it glosses over a stark difference between a civil claim and a claim under the AFCS - in the former you get loss of earnings and benefits and in the latter you don't. In most NFCI cases our clients receive between £6,000 to £11,000 for the injury itself from the AFCS, but if it meant their career was ended prematurely, they typically receive more than ten times that for their significant loss in future earnings or benefits. Going forward, relying only on the AFCS, that is gone.
“Ex-Armed Forces staff – many of whom are disadvantaged in the jobs market – will be left in financial jeopardy.
“Our advice to any member of the armed forces who has been injured through no fault of their own is simple. You should contact a specialist lawyer as soon as possible for legal support, because the sooner you do this, the greater the chance you can make a civil claim which can include loss of earnings rather than being impacted by the vindictive and unnecessary changes in this Bill.”
Our military accident claims specialists are only a phone call away.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a military accident, Thompsons Solicitors’ military lawyers are at hand to offer specialist legal advice on whether you can make a military accident compensation claim.
Our expert team has an unrivalled experience of winning claims against the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and will support you at every stage of your military accident compensation claim, expertly guiding you through the often complex military claims process and navigating issues such as contested liability and Combat Immunity.
If you or someone you care about has been injured while serving in the military - including during training accidents or while on the roads - in the last three years, contact us today for a free, no obligation consultation.
Our How to Make A Compensation Claim section contains further information and advice about the process of starting a compensation claim.