APIL and ABI agree new approach for personal injury cases in Scotland during coronavirus pandemic

The Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) and the Association of British Insurers (ABI) have agreed a new approach to the handling of personal injury cases in the Scottish courts under the current COVID-19 situation.

The position relates to cases where limitation would possibly be an issue in the next few months.

A schedule setting out the basis of the agreement will be hosted on the ABI’s website and APIL’s website together with a list of pursuer and defender parties which have signed up to the agreement.

The two representative bodies agreed that parties should take a consensual approach in relation to time limits and not seek to take unfair advantage of a party not complying with a procedural requirement.

Gordon Dalyell, APIL president and a partner at Digby Brown LLP, said: “As is to be expected, the current COVID-19 crisis is affecting all aspects of commercial and administrative life. As lawyers working in the claims sphere, the current requirements for self-isolation; the non-availability of our own staff, together with our clients, counsel and experts; and restrictions on travel and contact with others, are all creating significant challenges.

“It is clear that it will not be possible to continue with ‘business as usual’ and we welcome the steps that have already been taken to mitigate the problems. The statements of policy from the Court of Session, Sheriff Appeal Court, and All-Scotland Personal Injury Court are appreciated. In particular, we welcome greater use of telephone facilities, the submission of electronic documents, and the use of written submissions, to avoid the need to attend court.”

Alastair Ross, head of public policy for Scotland at the ABI, added: “The current crisis requires all those involved in civil litigation to take account of the current circumstances in delivering upon the overriding objective. We expect parties and their representatives on both sides to take a responsible approach to personal injury litigation. Insurers will continue to see to settle claims where liability has been agreed as promptly as possible so that compensation awards can be paid.”

Ash Denham MSP, the minister for community safety, said: “The Scottish Government is doing everything it can to ensure that the justice system continues to operate during the COVID-19 emergency. I am grateful to APIL and ABI for finding a new co-operative approach to maintain effective dispute resolution during these unprecedented times. We will continue to engage with justice stakeholders as they assess the implications of COVID-19 and update their contingency planning arrangements accordingly.”

Mr Dalyell and Mr Rossadded: “We hope that the current crisis will be short-lived and that it will be possible to return to normal conditions as soon as possible. Until then we are committed to taking all steps to work effectively alongside the Scottish Court and Tribunal Service and the judiciary in maintaining effective dispute resolution.”

Read all of our articles relating to COVID-19 here.

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