The ABI has developed the protocol in response to the unprecedented challenge which firms across the personal injury sector are facing as a result of the spread of COVID-19. The protocol recognises that the pandemic provides opportunities for both claimants and defendants in personal injury cases to opportunistically gain an unfair advantage by, for example, taking advantage of missed deadlines.
The protocol includes:
- An agreement that all limitation dates in all personal injury cases are frozen and claimants undertake to respond constructively to defendant requests for extension of time to serve a Defence;
- An escalation process whereby any issue arising by a party’s failure to act in accordance with the agreement in 1. above and which cannot immediately be resolved between the parties is referred to an email and/or telephone ‘hotline’ specifically established for this situation; and
- A commitment that the email and telephone hotline will be monitored regularly and referred to senior people within the respective organisations who will be able to make a swift decision as to whether the stance being taken should be adjusted in light of prevailing circumstances.
The immediate extension to the personal injury protocol took effect from 24 March 2020, for a minimum of four weeks, with a review to take place the week commencing 13 April 2020.
Colin Cook, Hatch Brenner Head of Dispute Resolution and Norwich Personal Injury Solicitor commented: “We fully pledge our support the ABI in their swift development of this protocol, providing a practical framework aimed at mitigating the impact of disruption to ongoing cases, and preventing opportunistic tactics by either claimants or defendants in personal injury cases during the coronavirus pandemic.
“Innovation and collaboration are key, and it is very encouraging to see so many insurers and law firms sign up so far. We must work together to continue to give our clients the help and support they need during these challenging and uncertain times.
“We expect to see continued temporary amendments to the overall litigation process to adapt to this unprecedented global challenge; particularly more general extensions to time periods, and other process suspensions to ensure ongoing access to justice for all.”