Legal Update On Army Deafness Claims by Stuart Lowrey, Military Personal Injury Specialist

High Court throws out the Ministry of Defence Application to have all the soldiers deafness claims transferred to the High Court and three test cases taken to trial.

Good news for soldiers who are seeking damages as a result of noise induced hearing loss due to service. Had the application been allowed it would have meant a delay running in to years for claimants whilst the three test cases were taken to trial and almost certainly to an appeal irrespective of which way the Judgment goes. At the time of writing the Ministry of Defence have until 31st January 2014 to appeal the decision … watch this space.

Update, 22 July 2014: As expected the MOD appealed the decision by the high court not to allow the MOD to transfer the many Noise Induced Hearing Loss claims to the High Court.

However Mrs Justice Patterson dismissed the MOD’s appeal on the grounds that the scope of combat immunity should be restricted to active operations against the enemy and any exception to that would depend on the circumstances and evidence.

The Judge had not been persuaded that there were common issues of fact or law. The noise exposure had occurred in a variety of circumstances and in a variety of ways and an assessment of one case would be of little use in another.

Although the common complaint was noise induced hearing loss, the issues of causation and breach of duty were sufficiently different to justify the decision not to transfer.

The Court also took in to account the real risk of difficulty in funding for the Claimants especially if the cases were transferred to the High Court.

Our Claimants are from various locations throughout the country with their claims already commenced in local County Courts and to transfer them to London would add further inconvenience to the Claimants and their representatives..

In light of these, and various other deliberations, the Court rules that the claims could not be transferred to the High Court and the appeal dismissed.

We would urge those with hearing problems caused either by long term (eg rifle firing, noisy transportation) or short term (eg explosion) exposure to noise during their service to contact us immediately to see if we can assist. Equally where personnel have not been equipped with appropriate ear protection by the MoD we are well-placed to advise soldiers whether they are still serving or not.

Stuart Lowrey is Military Lawyers 4U’s specialist in Military Personal Injury Claims.