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Judicial College Guidelines versus AFCS awards

Simon Quinn and Laura Cornes provide their thoughts

Simon Quinn, Partner & Head of Military and Laura Cornes, Solicitor and Head of AFCS at Hilary Meredith Solicitors sat down last week to discuss the recent publication of the Judicial College Guidelines (JCG) Seventeenth Edition (used by legal practitioners/professionals etc when valuing personal injury claims/injuries) versus awards our firm has recently achieved under the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme (AFCS).

 

Firstly, it is imperative that service personnel and veterans are aware of all of their options if they have been injured as a result of service. They should be aware that they have the right to seek independent legal advice about the possibility of pursuing a civil claim for compensation, as well as the option to pursue a claim through the AFCS and/or War Pension Scheme(s).

 

The Armed Forces Compensation Scheme (AFCS) is a UK government scheme that provides financial compensation to members of the armed forces, reservists, and veterans who have suffered an injury, illness, or death as a result of their service. The AFCS covers a wide range of injuries and conditions, including physical injuries, mental health conditions, hearing loss, and other disabilities. The amount of compensation awarded depends on the severity of the injury or condition and its impact on an individual's life.  The scheme also provides support for the families of service members who have died as a result of their service.

 

Service personnel and veterans should be aware of their right to bring a civil compensation claim, as often, an award made under the AFCS, being tariff-based, is not truly reflective of the pain, suffering and loss of amenity that the injury has caused. NB that the AFCS does not compensate/allow awards for any claims for special damages in particular any loss of earnings which are often the most significant loss in any military personal injury claim and which can only be recovered as part of a successful civil claim for compensation. Therefore, only a civil claim can put the Claimant, as closely as possible, back to the position they were in prior to the accident/incident/injury, and ensure that they have access to the appropriate rehabilitation, accommodation, aids, care and equipment (where appropriate). Civil claims for compensation can also play a key role in holding the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to account e.g. the Snatch Land Rover claims which highlight issues with equipment or training. As aresult, lessons can be learnt, and changes implemented ensuring that more individuals are not harmed or killed by defective equipment or bad practices etc.

 

Secondly, it is imperative that service personnel and veterans understand that the AFCS in a non-fault scheme for personnel injured as a result of service and is administered by Veterans UK (now rebranded as Defence Business Services (DBS)) under the MoD umbrella/part of the MoD.  Veterans UK are therefore NOTindependent and NOT under any duty to act in any injured service personnel’s/veteran’s best interests whereas a Solicitor is under a duty to do.

 

AFCS claims can be complex to deal with especially for anyone without legal representation. Veterans can often be in a vulnerable position following discharge with many of them suffering from psychological/psychiatric injuries e.g. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as a result of their service. Without legal advice and representation many service personnel and veterans may not be able to properly navigate the AFCS. In many cases injured service personnel and veterans are placed into the wrong compensation bracket by Veterans UK however many injured service personnel and veterans may not have the expert knowledge and/or evidence to know whether their compensation is fair; and so are unlikely to challenge it through to either an appeal stage and/or through to a tribunal hearing before a panel of Judges and often a representative from Veterans UK in attendance also who may be legally trained. The importance of the role of the tribunal and the judicial process can be highlighted e.g. as injured service personnel and veterans have seen high success rates on appeal decisions concerning eligibility and quantum (the value of their claim(s)) i.e. 140 appeals had a favourable decision in 2022/23: Armed Forces Compensation Scheme Statistics: Financial Year 2022/23

 

 

Whilst reviewing the Judicial College Guidelines (JCG) seventeenth Edition versus awards our firm has recently achieved under the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme (AFCS); although every claim is different, Simon & Laura noted some limited/certain examples/scenarios where an AFCS award may be more favourable than say in a liability denied/poor prospects of success civil claim for compensation against the MoD (in particular where combat immunity will apply), as for general damages (injuries):

 

(i) The maximum sum in the bracket for PTSD in the JCG (seventeenth edition) is £122,850.00 whilst our firm regularly achieves AFCS award(s) for PTSD (which meet certain criteria) of £144,200.00 and we have recently represented an injured veteran who obtained an AFCS award for PTSD of £298,700.00 plus Guaranteed Income Payments (GIP’s) payable for life;


(ii) The maximum sum in the bracket for Brain damage in the JCG (seventeenth edition) is £493K whilst our firm recently represented a seriously injured veteran who obtained a maximum AFCS award for a Brian injury of £650,000.00.

 

In certain circumstances and subject to the level of AFCS award; injured service personnel and veterans may also in addition to their AFCS award(s) be entitled to Guaranteed Income Payments (GIP’s) which are tax free/index linked payments payable for life (therefore of course beyond retirement age) and/or Armed Forces Independence Payments (AFIP’s) also.

 

Hilary Meredith Solicitors always recommend any injured service personnel and veterans seek independent legal advice at their earliest opportunity following any injury as strict time limits for any claim(s) apply.  We will also ensure that any proper checks are carried out e.g. on capacity to protect any vulnerable service person’s/veteran’s compensation; and where appropriate we will signpost any vulnerable service person(s)/veteran(s) to ensure that they are properly advised of their choices and given information and support on how to handle their money, including potentially protecting their entitlement to any Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) benefits.

 

If you have been injured as a result of service then we would recommend you contact our firm without delay to discuss your potential claim(s) with one of our specialist Solicitors. There really is no substitute for experience when dealing with military cases and with over with over 37 years of experience fighting for the rights of serving personnel, their families and veterans Hilary Meredith Solicitors has the experience that counts.

 

Hilary Meredith Solicitors regularly achieve six figure settlements in AFCS cases and regularly achieve seven or eight figure settlements for other seriously injured Military clients.  We expedite our injured Military client’s cases and for AFCS cases already underway even with other Solicitors we offer a free no obligation review/2nd opinion.

 

Don’t delay, contact Hilary Meredith Solicitors today!

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