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Personal Injury Law Journal: July/August 2012

David Regan considers the basis of awards and common pitfalls

The opening line of LP Hartley’s The Go-Between (1953), ‘The past is a foreign country, they do things differently there’, is often applied to historical studies. It reminds us that the apparent familiarity of a subject may be deeply deceptive. It is peculiarly apposite to the Fatal Accidents Act 1976, a statute that appears to follow the ordinary rules of tort, but which in fact proceeds on a quite different basis. The statutory language is a creature of the 1970s, a decade now more than 30 years in the past. It has been amended in a piecemeal fashion in an effort to incorporate innovations such as civil partnerships not conceived of in 1976. However, the language and architecture of the act remain rooted in the past and lend force to case law remaining similarly rooted.

Philip Davy sets out an overview of costs at Stages 1, 2 and 3 of the Pre-Action Protocol for Low-Value Personal Injury Claims in Road Traffic Accidents

Personal injury practitioners are becoming increasingly familiar with the Pre-Action Protocol for Low-Value Personal Injury Claims in Road Traffic Accidents.

Sarah Prager looks at the decision of the Court of Appeal in Harrison v Jagged Globe

The Court of Appeal has recently given judgment in the case of Harrison v Jagged Globe Ltd [2012]. The long-awaited decision clarifies the circumstances in which tour operators will be liable for the actions of their overseas suppliers – and will come as welcome news for an industry in need of it.

Anna Macey reports on a parent company that has been held liable to an employee of a subsidiary for negligent asbestos exposure

The claimant, Mr Chandler, worked for Cape Products (Cape) for 18 months over two brief periods between 1959 and 1962. While working there he was exposed to significant amounts of asbestos dust and he later developed asbestosis. Cape was dissolved many years ago, and while they had had employer’s liability insurance this did not cover asbestosis claims. Mr Chandler was therefore unable to recover any damages from Cape or their insurers.

Dr Tracey Ryan-Morgan examines the effects of mild traumatic brain injury

The issue of what constitutes a minor head injury, and what are the expected sequelae, is one which exercises expert witnesses and for that there is no consensus. This article seeks to extrapolate the interconnected issues of mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI), concussion and post-concussion, and to present the evidence base for these. The conclusion is that, if one follows the research evidence, accepts robust theoretical models and adopts the rule of thumb that the results of any assessment of these symptoms have to ‘make biological or psychometric sense’ (Iverson, 2006), it is possible to adopt a consistent position.

Paul Jones discusses fixed success fees

Fixed success fees have resulted in far fewer cases troubling the courts over the vexed question of what is a reasonable success fee. Since 2003, RTA claims have had a fixed success fee of 12.5% and this was followed in October 2004 with the 25% success fee for employer’s liability claims. Finally, in October 2005, industrial disease claims had their own fixed success fees, ranging from 27.5% for asbestosis to 100% for stress and repetitive strain type injuries. Generally, the fixed success fees do not cause many issues but, on occasion, an argument will arise as to how and when they will apply to particular cases on the margins. One particular example is where an accident at work stops and an industrial disease starts, and the recent case of Bird v Meggitt Aerospace Ltd [2012] in Nottingham County Court illustrates the issue well.

Liability; manual handling accidents

This case provides a telling illustration of the stringency of the Manual Handling (Operations) Regulations 1992 and the evidential difficulties that a defendant is likely to face rebutting liability under such provisions.