Injured armed forces personnel and veterans face being blocked from the courts in a perverse move by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) say lawyers.
“The Ministry of Defence wants to stop injured servicemen and women from being able to make compensation claims for injuries which they sustained more than 10 years ago,” explained Gordon Dalyell, president of APIL, a national not-for-profit group which works for injured people and their families.
“The MoD’s message is clear. Injured veterans are a burden it wants to shake off as quickly as possible,” he said.
“These are not injuries sustained in battle. They are needless injuries which could and should be avoided and there are many valid reasons why an injured person might wait ten years before seeking compensation. The true damage of post-traumatic stress disorder, or asbestos exposure, for example, can take years to manifest,” said Mr Dalyell.
“There is no justification for why the MoD should be excused from its responsibilities to suffering veterans. The employers of civilians are held to account, it would be perverse for our veterans and serving personnel to be denied the same access to justice”.
Most personal injury claims must be made within three years, including military claims. But after three years a judge has the discretion to decide whether a claim can be allowed to go ahead. The MoD consultation proposes that after 10 years, there should be no such discretion by a judge at all and injured people will not be able to bring their claims.
“It’s unthinkable that a wrongdoer could be allowed to say ‘that was a long time ago, you should forget about it’,” said Mr Dalyell.
“Negligence claims are an important means of highlighting dangers in relation to training and equipment, which ultimately prevents injuries and can save lives,” he said. “But they are also crucial for the individuals involved who need compensation to put their lives back on track”.
Notes to editors:
*Ministry of Defence consultation: Legal Protections for Armed Forces Personnel and Veterans serving in operations outside the United Kingdom https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/819101/20190718-MOD_consultation_document-FINAL.pdf
- APIL (Association of Personal Injury Lawyers) is a not-for-profit organisation whose members are dedicated to campaigning for improvements in the law to help people who are injured or become ill through no fault of their own.
- For more information contact APIL's communications manager Jane Hartwell on t: 0115 943 5416, e: firstname.lastname@example.org, or press and communications officer Lizzy Freeman t: 0115 943 5431, e: email@example.com.
- Visit the association's website at www.apil.org.uk.
- Follow @APIL on Twitter: www.twitter.com/APIL.