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Personal injury

Limitation – contribution claim

There is a standard two-year limitation period for bringing a contribution claim (s10 Limitation Act 1980). But, from what date does time start running? There are two possibilities:

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Emergency vehicles – negligence

In considering liability for accidents involving emergency vehicles, the courts have to perform a balancing act. On the one hand, those injured should not be denied compensation merely because the other vehicle was on an emergency call; on the other hand, if liability is too strict then the bill for the emergency services will be prohibitive, and drivers of those vehicles will be inhibited in their driving.

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Fatals – the basics

There will normally be two claims. Firstly there will be a claim on behalf of the estate (under Law Reform (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1934), and secondly there will be a claim by any dependants (Fatal Accidents Act 1976). The claim on behalf of the estate can include reasonable funeral expenses, any special damages (including loss of earnings to the date of death), as well as general damages for pain, suffering and loss of amenity (unless death was instantaneous).

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Surveillance – expert

   A surveillance expert has come in for criticism in two recent cases. Indeed, the need for an ‘expert’ on surveillance evidence has been questioned (with one judge warning of the dangers of ‘making mountains out of molehills’ and of ‘a cottage industry in making the issues relating to surveillance more horrendous than they need to be’). In one of the cases, the High Court allowed the expert’s factual evidence to be produced, but rejected his opinion evidence. Hayden v Maidstone [2016] EWHC 1962 (QB).

 

Medical evidence – foreign law

What is the correct approach to obtaining expert evidence in a PI case following a foreign accident, in which the foreign ‘applicable law’ applies?

The starting point is Wall [2014] in which an English motorcyclist was involved in a serious accident in France. The claimant argued for the usual plethora of experts (ten in total) that might be involved in a catastrophic injuries claim. The defendant argued that French procedure should prevail, namely that there should be one expert acting alone (in accordance with the French Procedural Code). The CA agreed with the claimant, on the basis that the question of how expert evidence should be provided is a matter of ‘evidence and procedure’ which is decided in accordance with the law of ‘the forum’ (ie in this case, England) rather than the ‘applicable law’ (France).

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Sanctions – no relief

This is a clear illustration of the modern approach to failure to comply: the court refused to grant an application for extra time, or to grant relief from sanctions, despite (i) the application being made before the expiry of the deadline, (ii) there was no trial date listed, and (iii) liability was admitted for a six-figure sum.
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RTA – stage 2

Suppose a claimant stalls the claim at stage 2 of the pre-action protocol for low-value RTA claims, having issued a protective county court claim which stands stayed. Is there anything the defendant can do to get things moving?
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QOCS – appeals

The High Court has confirmed that qualified one-way costs shifting applies to appeals (ie they are part of the ‘proceedings’). Parker v Butler [2016] EWHC 1251 (QB).
 

Interim payment – forcing medical disclosure

There has recently been an important clinical negligence case on how the courts should deal with applications for an interim payment prior to exchange of medical evidence. The lesson that emerges is of the importance of both sides being able to produce proper medical evidence – even if the proceedings are at an early stage.
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