Opposing sides in the personal injury sector have joined forces to create a new set of standard practices for dealing with coronavirus disruption.
The Association of Personal Injury Lawyers and Forum of Insurance Lawyers – so often at loggerheads over issues of policy – have agreed the new guidance which members will be encouraged to abide by.
Measures include accepting service and evidence by email and agreeing to use some form of video conferencing for medical examination (video diagnosis has already been allowed for soft tissue injuries by MedCo). APIL and FOIL recommend that practitioners are minded to consent to request to extensions of up to 56 days to meet court directions and timetables. They also ask that, where possible, parties exchange their costs budgets.
Many of the proposals agreed are not covered by civil procedure rules, but the idea would be that parties involved in litigation would not make any application to the courts if, for example, they were served by email.
Gordon Dalyell, president of APIL, said: 'These are unprecedented times and both APIL and FOIL want to ensure that cases run smoothly across the UK so far as possible. Our members told us their concerns about remote working and how they might adapt to the new way in which the courts are operating. Defendants are also going to have their own difficulties. Both organisations feel it is important to do what they can to help to resolve these issues together.’
Anthony Baker, FOIL president, said it was testament to the collaborative nature of both sides of the sector that the organisations can work closely together.
‘Following this joint guidance where possible will be of benefit to all and hopefully ensure that we can navigate these choppy waters with understanding and cooperation at the forefront of what we do,’ he added.
The Association of British Insurers and Thompsons Solicitors have already agreed a protocol with more than 150 firms to freeze limitation periods and grant insurers leeway over the late filing of a defence.
*The Law Society is keeping the coronavirus situation under review and monitoring the advice it receives from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office and Public Health England.