A landmark ruling in a case won by industry specialist lawyers Keoghs on behalf of Allianz
could help solve the growing problem of compensation claims for noise-induced hearing loss.
An appeal hearing at Coventry County Court allowed a costs order to be enforced against a claimant who had lost an industrial disease compensation case against his former employer.
Jonathan James had claimed Coventry-based Diamanttek Limited, who employed him as a diamond driller and a plant operator between 2003 and 2013, was responsible for his noise-induced hearing loss. He was seeking around £10,000 in damages, but lost his case at the original trial after conceding he had been issued and used protective equipment while working for Diamanttek. The original trial judge refused an application to remove the claimant’s QOCS [qualified one-way costs shifting] protection – which allowed him to bring a claim without fear of facing a costs order if he was unsuccessful – despite finding his evidence untruthful.
The defendants argued the judge had incorrectly applied the law and won on appeal, meaning the James had to pay the defendants’ costs – believed to the first time such an order has been made since the Criminal Justice & Courts Act changed the rules in April 2015, allowing QOCS to be set aside in cases that are found to be ‘fundamentally dishonest’.
Stephen Croston of Keoghs, who was instructed to represent Diamanttek by Allianz
, the company’s insurers, said: “Obtaining a result for Allianz
and the insurance industry was of some importance since it sends a message out to claimants and their solicitors that whatever field of personal injury litigation in which claims are brought, if claimants are dishonest and if dishonest claims are brought before the court, the courts are prepared to penalise a claimant and hold him responsible for costs. It’s the first such decision in this field and it does give some comfort to insurers that these provisions are there in the rules and judges are ready and willing to use them.”
The ABI highlighted what it sees as the ‘compensation culture’ surrounding claims for noise-induced hearing loss in a report last year. The association believes the sharp rise in volume of claims – up 250% between 2010 and 2013 - came about following the clampdown on ‘dodgy whiplash’ injuries, with ambulance-chasing lawyers switching to hearing loss in the hope of making easy money.
Sarah Cordey from the ABI said: “People need to understand that telling a lie to make any kind of insurance claim is a very serious matter. The insurance industry is committed to clamping down on these attempts because any fraudulent claim pushes up premium prices for honest customers.”