I believe lawyers who have used the Human Rights Legislation and taxpayers’ money, via legal aid, to pursue unfounded cases against our own military are in the wrong and should be made to refund a large proportion of the funds they have received – win or lose.
The loophole in the Legal Aid system which allowed non UK residents or non UK tax payers to make a claim on the fund has now been thankfully plugged.
The difficulty our military has, in the heat of battle, when pursuing the enemy, is difficult enough and I as a lawyer wholeheartedly support the removal of Human Rights legislation from conflict operations or the Theatre of War.
However this is not to be confused with our own soldiers’ rights. Since 1987 and the repeal of S10 of the Armed Forces (Crown Proceedings) Act armed forces service personnel have been entitled to claim for accident injury or death in service.
The idea behind this was to place members of our armed services, working alongside civilians, in our dockyards, on a level playing field when in contact with asbestos and the rights to claim.
These claims are similar to a factory accident – if there are dangerous procedures, unsafe equipment or a lack of training resulting in injury or death there is the right to claim.
Again this should not to be confused with the Ministry of Defence’s own, in house, employers scheme, the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme, which gives financial redress for death or injury in service and is deducted and repaid to MOD, from any S10 claim as above.
The MoD will argue that claims are on the increase but which claims are they talking about?
We know that AFCS claims have increased since Iraq and Afghanistan – as would be expected
Human Rights legislation has cost the MoD and the taxpayer dearly, but S10 Civil claims are down year on year and count for a small proportion of the defence budget. This is probably due to the fact that the AFCS award has to be deducted from the S10 Claim and as the top award is £570,000 the injury has to be life changing for a claim to be made. It is crucial, in my view, that the rights of our own soldiers under S10 are preserved.