The Ministry of Defence spent £20 million of taxpayers’ money fighting injured soldiers’ claims for compensation during its most recent financial year.
A freedom of information request by Hilary Meredith Solicitors reveals that the MoD spent £20 million on legal costs defending compensation claims from soldiers and veterans during the 2021/22 financial year. The figure does not include any costs associated with the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme.
Hilary Meredith-Beckham, founder and chair of Hilary Meredith Solicitors, slammed the MoD’s confrontational approach to soldiers’ legal rights.
“The MoD is treating our soldiers like the enemy,” said Hilary.
“In civilian claims, claimant solicitors and defendant representatives are more willing than ever to work together for the good of the injured person. There is a more conciliatory approach with commercially-minded insurance companies making common-sense decisions on when to settle claims.
“The MoD remains stuck in the dark ages though. They’re stubbornly defending claims and adopting aggressive and unnecessary stalling tactics. In reality, the MoD is defending its own mistakes and is unwilling to take a step back and look at the bigger picture like an insurance company would. The whole culture needs to change. The taxpayers’ money the MoD is wasting on legal costs would be placed in the hands of those who need it the most - our injured soldiers and veterans.
“On average our serious injury cases against the MoD are taking up to five years to conclude. We have one particular case which is now running into its eighth year. Any sensible insurer would be negotiating a settlement but the MoD is continuing to fight. There is a total lack of independence in their approach.”
Added Hilary: “We are also seeing the MoD reject valid claims through its Armed Forces Compensation Scheme. Every year thousands of veterans are forced into a lengthy and protracted appeal process. It's rubbing salt in the wound and has a huge impact on their mental health.”
Concluded Hilary: “The whole system is in need of urgent review. The government has said it is committed to making the UK the best place in the world to be a veteran. That ambition will never be realised until we address how the legal system is treating our injured servicemen and women. They deserve much more than hollow words.”