Noise Induced Hearing Loss Regarded as a Disease, Not an Injury – High Court Rules
The high court has ruled that any Hearing Loss case before the Jackson reforms is to remain subject to the 62.5% success fee recoverable by the solicitor.
The ruling has arisen from a case brought in front of the high court where 4 former employees of BT were claiming for hearing loss. BT’s legal team had argued that hearing loss was an injury and therefore subject to only a 25% success fee however Mr Justice Phillips ruled that because the claims were brought before the Jackson reforms, a success fee of 62.5% would still apply.
This is a positive ruling for claimant law firms across the country who have been hit hard by the Jackson reforms in 2012. The reforms to the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders act have meant that firms running personal injury and disease cases would now have success fees capped to 25% which is taken from clients compensation rather than from the defendant firm. This means in complex, long running cases such as asbestos related conditions and work related cancers, sufferers are now seeing a big portion of their damages taken before any compensation is even received.
The argument placed in front of Phillips was that the same principles as personal injury claims could be applied to hearing loss claims as the condition was caused by immediate physical trauma, rather than a disease.
This was rejected by Phillips as he was quick to point out that occupational deafness has been “expressly defined” as a disease through legislation since 1975.
He then went on to add “[The] defendant’s insurers attempt to re-open (if not renege on) the industry agreement made in 2005 does them little credit. The large number of NIHL claims in which the argument about the success fee has been raised will have been funded by CFAs which were entered on the basis that a 62.5% success fee would be recovered. To seek to limit such success fees to 25% is an opportunistic attempt to avoid part of the overall bargain.”
Roberts Jackson Solicitors have vast experience with Hearing Loss claims and welcome the ruling by Mr Justice Phillips. If you do suffer from hearing loss or would like more information about this issue or any other issue surrounding compensation claims for occupational disease please do not hesitate to get in touch.
 Noise-induced hearing loss a disease, High Court rules – http://www.lawgazette.co.uk/law/noise-induced-hearing-loss-a-disease-high-court-rules/5047551.article