Proposed reforms on legal claims against the British armed forces are likely to be put before Parliament by the end of the month.
Defence minister Penny Mordaunt last week told MPs in the Commons that she would publish reforms aimed at restricting the types of personal injury claims that can be brought against the Ministry of Defence, according to the Law Society Gazette.
Just a few weeks ago, we examined whether a crackdown on military legal claims could disadvantage injured soldiers and asserted our support for any plans designed to protect our armed forces personnel from allegations that prove to be false.
We’d only have an issue with any new measures if they have a detrimental effect on the rights of a genuinely injured person to seek justice via the civil courts or if it removed or restricted the rights of service personnel themselves to seek redress.
Legitimate Military Claims
A court will only require the MoD to pay out compensation in cases where there is clear evidence of a case to answer and a clear legal liability to compensate the injured.
Our specialist military accident solicitors see many honest military compensation claims brought by members of our armed forces. In bringing a personal injury claim against the MoD, they are merely seeking to secure their future and that of their family by recovering an amount of compensation to put them back to the position they would have been in had they not been injured as a result of negligence. This would include help to pay for essential medical treatment and rehabilitation as well as the financial implications of the loss of their service career and pension.
Here are just three types of personal injury claim brought by injured service personnel:
- Poor equipment – soldiers can be injured by poor or defective equipment. The MoD, like any employer, has a duty of care to all armed forces personnel.
- Training accidents – members of our armed forces can sustain an injury when taking part in a training exercise. Again, the MoD has a duty to make sure any training is properly risk assessed and that the risk of injury is reduced as far as reasonably practical so there is nothing that is likely to cause a foreseeable injury.
- Negligence – some military personnel are injured through negligence on behalf of the MoD. A well-publicised recent example is that of the three army reservists who tragically died while undertaking the Special Forces selection exercise in the Brecon Beacons on the hottest day of the year. Senior officers in charge on the day failed to spot that the soldiers were suffering from the effects of heat stroke.
We wait and see what Ms Mordaunt’s proposed reforms will be and sincerely hope they do not erode the rights of honest soldiers who are injured through no fault of their own.
Zoe Sutton is a senior associate solicitor specialising in military claims at Slater and Gordon Lawyers UK.
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