Over 60 claims of noise-induced hearing loss will be heard separately in the local county courts of the claimants, rather than transferred centrally to the High Court, after an important legal victory by Hilary Meredith Solicitors Ltd.
The claims have been brought by military personnel, who alleged to have developed hearing loss either in training, in combat, post combat or in a combination of those circumstances. Many causes have been given, from the lack of sufficient hearing protection equipment and the operation of military hardware such as guns or mortars.
Hilary Meredith Solicitors instructed David Allan QC to fight for 29 of the 60 claimants after the Ministry of Defence made an application to transfer the cases to the High Court, with the argument that it would be more cost-effective than having each case dealt with separately.
Sinead Cartwright, Partner at Hilary Meredith Solicitors is leading the claims for the firm. They opposed the MoD application on the grounds that they had already settled some hearing loss cases previously, so arguments relating to the complex issues involved did not hold; each case was fact-specific and some of these claims were well on their way to court and it was unfair to the claimants to further delay the outcome.
In the initial decision and appeal heard last year, Senior Master Whittaker accepted David Allan QC’s arguments and dismissed the MoD application on the basis that it would be detrimental to the individual claimants. The MOD latest appeal has now also failed.
Sinead Cartwright, Partner at Hilary Meredith Solicitors said:
“We are delighted with this successful outcome. The decision impacts both existing clients and future clients. Since the initial hearing of the application in April last year more people have come forward with the same problems. Some of these are young men in their 20’s who joined up to make a career out of the armed forces and now find they have to start a new career with hearing impairment.
“David Allan’s input has been invaluable in getting the judge to see how harmful it would be to refer these cases up and judge them all based on a selected few and we look forward to getting a fair and deserved resolution for each and every one of our clients.”
Said Hilary Meredith, CEO at Hilary Meredith Solicitors:
“This is a significant victory as the MOD was attempting to extend combat immunity not only to decisions made in the heat of battled when thinking may be impaired but back to Whitehall when they procured the wrong equipment for war.
“These cases should clearly be interpreted on a case by case basis. This is the second time the MOD has failed to get this decision reversed.”