A firm leading hearing loss claims against the Ministry of Defence has hailed a ‘groundbreaking development’ in the decades-long dispute. 

National firm Hugh James Solicitors said the MoD has agreed to drop legal defences that have hampered armed forces personnel from securing compensation in noise-induced hearing loss claims.

The ministry previously said it was believed there were up to 10,000 potential claims featuring issues which were common or related issues of fact or law.

Hugh James announced it had reached settlement terms with the MoD, approved today by the High Court in London, which mean it will no longer dispute that it owes a duty of care to members of the armed forces who have suffered hearing loss while serving their country. 

In addition, for Hugh James’ cases, the MoD has committed to abandon its defence of ‘limitation’ which has prevented some claims succeeding because they were brought too late. It has also dropped its defence based on the level of noise claimants were exposed to during their service. 

The firm said this is the first time the MoD has reached an agreement which will benefit large numbers of current and former military personnel suffering from hearing loss.

Hugh James added that its clients therefore now have to prove only that any hearing loss was sustained during their time in the military.

The MoD will waive the defences it previously deployed for claimants who have already signed up with Hugh James, or who sign up with the firm by 30 January 2026. However, the firm stated that anyone who believes they may have a valid claim should register as soon as possible to have it dealt with under the ‘matrix’, which is based on the date the claimant left military service. 

Hugh James had been at loggerheads with 18 other firms. For claimants represented by other firms, the MoD said it reserves the right not to offer the same terms as set out in the matrix.

Simon Ellis, partner and head of the specialist military department at Hugh James, representing approximately 5,000 military personnel with noise induced hearing loss claims, commented: ‘This is a groundbreaking development for servicemen and women seeking justice for their hearing loss.’

An MoD spokesperson said: 'We take the health and wellbeing of our personnel seriously and always look at how we can reduce noise levels in their working environment. This is alongside providing training, protective equipment and regular hearing tests to detect any early signs of hearing loss so action can be taken if necessary.

'We have reached an agreement with Hugh James Solicitors on how to progress a cohort of historic noise induced hearing loss claims, which has been accepted by the court.'


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