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Law change will help workers win injury claims

by Conrad Landin at Edinburgh Ukrainian Club

A CHANGE in Scottish law will assist workers in securing personal injury damages from employers, a leading employment solicitor said today.

Thompsons Scotland partner Alan Rodgers said the introduction of “qualified one-way costs shifting” (QOCS) could help unions secure faster settlements.

Currently the losing party in such cases pays the other side’s costs.

But under the new system introduced by the Civil Litigation (Expenses & Group Proceedings) Act last year, personal injury claimants will not be liable to pay if they are unsuccessful.

The change that would also benefit victims of clinical negligence has been passed in the Scottish Parliament but secondary legislation will be required before it becomes law.

Speaking at the RMT supervisory and clerical grades conference in Edinburgh, Mr Rodgers described the introduction of the new system as a “seismic shift.”

He predicted it would put the onus on employers to offer better settlements before litigation.

But Mr Rodgers warned that under the new legal framework, predatory law firms would move into the arena and charge litigants hefty fees for successful cases that would be paid out from “damages-based agreements.”

Union reps should get the message out that workers will be best compensated if they take personal injury claims through the union’s legal process, he said.

“It’s going to become a really competitive market,” he told delegates. “The texts we all hate, the phone calls: ‘Have you had an accident,’ that’s going to go through the roof as well.”

The lawyer also called on transport workers to be vigilant over the use of CCTV in criminal prosecutions against members dealing with violent passengers.

In March, Scotland’s High Court of Justiciary confirmed that CCTV on its own can provide “sufficient evidence” of guilt.

The Bill that proposed the civil litigation changes came after a report by Sheriff Principal Taylor. He had reviewed statistics for numbers and types of personal injury claims made throughout Britain.

He found that numbers of claims in Scotland were much lower than expected and concluded that one of the main concerns for potential litigants was the cost, should they lose a court action.

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