Court of Appeal's ruling in Simmons a 'simple, workable' solution
The Association of Personal Injury Lawyers is to defend the Court of Appeal’s decision to announce that the 10 per cent increase in general damages promised by Lord Justice Jackson will apply from 1 April 2013.
Earlier this month, the court agreed to reopen the ruling in Simmons v Castle  EWCA Civ 1039, following an application by the Association of British Insurers.
The ruling in the case was delivered by three of the country’s top judges in July – Lord Neuberger, the Master of the Rolls and soon to be sworn in as the new president of the Supreme Court, Lord Judge, the Lord Chief Justice and Lord Justice Maurice Kay, the vice president of the Court of Appeal.
The increase would apply to personal injury cases, nuisance, defamation and “all other torts which cause suffering, inconvenience or distress to individuals”, the judges said.
A spokesman for APIL said the association would argue at the hearing on Tuesday next week that the Court of Appeal’s judgment represented “a balanced approach to the implementation of Lord Justice Jackson’s recommendations”.
He went on: “As Jackson observed, ‘the level of damages in England and Wales is not high at the moment’ and it was his intention that damages be increased by ten per cent for all claimants ‘at the opportune moment’.
“There is much more in the package of reforms than recoverability of success fees, such as QOCS, Part 36 offers and a new rule on proportionality.
“Clearly there is not going to be one single day on which every aspect of the reforms is introduced and the court has used its remit of providing guidance on general damages to provide a simple, workable solution which avoids any risk of satellite litigation.”
APIL will be represented by Grahame Aldous QC, of 9 Gough Square.
A spokesperson for the ABI said the effect of the Simmons ruling would be to apply the 10 per cent increase retrospectively to ‘no-win, no-fee’ cases started before 1 April 2013.
This, she said, would lead to a rise in the cost of personal injury litigation which was not anticipated in the reforms.
James Dalton, head of motor and liability insurance at the ABI said the increase in general damages formed part of a carefully balanced package of measures introduced by the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act.
“The effect of the Simmons decision is to give the 10 per cent increase a retrospective effect,” he said before adding: “This represents a significant departure from government policy and, left unchallenged, is likely to lead to increases in car insurance premiums and employers’ liability premiums.
“The insurance industry is determined to reduce unnecessary costs and to resisting this decision, which is why we are pleased that the Court has agreed with the ABI’s submission to reopen the case.”
Andrew Parker, head of strategic litigation at DAC Beachcroft is acting for the ABI.