Injured abroad serving in the British Forces, can you still bring a claim?
Due to the nature of the job, many servicemen and women are injured in the course of their employment whilst overseas. Since the UK’s decision to leave the European Union in January 2020, the rules governing jurisdiction and applicable law have changed and made it more difficult for those injured abroad to pursue a claim.
Prior to Brexit, it was very easy to bring a claim under the jurisdiction of England and Wales so long as the injury took place within the EU. The rules used to be that, so long as the injury occurred in one of the countries in the EU, you could bring a claim in any country in the EU. This meant that if a member of the British Forces was injured abroad, so long as this was in the EU, the English and Welsh courts would have been able to claim jurisdiction over any civil claim.
Following the decision to leave the EU, proving that the Courts of England and Wales have jurisdiction over an accident that occurred outside the UK has become more difficult. This is because the UK is no longer governed by EU law. For any claim that is brought after 1st January 2021, the rules on jurisdiction are now governed by common law principles, rather than EU law.
When serving, someone outside of the UK must now prove that the subject matter of the claim has a ‘sufficient close connection’ with England and Wales and their Courts. Whilst this is a bigger hurdle to overcome than before, in reality for most service personnel that are injured in the course of their service, proving a closeness of connection to England and Wales is entirely possible and it will still be possible to pursue the majority of claims. One of the ways that it can be proved that the English and Welsh courts should claim jurisdiction over an incident that happened abroad is if the Defendant is domiciled in England or Wales.
As most civil claims brought by service personnel are against the Ministry of Defence, rather than the individual that is directly at fault for the injury, it is clear that the Ministry of Defence are domiciled in England as they are habitually resident in England.
As well as proving that there is a sufficient close connection to the English and Welsh Courts, it must also be believed that the claim has a reasonable chance of success and it must be thought that England or Wales is the proper place to bring the claim.
At Bolt Burdon Kemp, we act for servicemen and women who have been injured in the course of their service and have seen the life changing impact this can have on individuals. We help service personnel claim compensation, which provides them with a financial safety net in the immediate aftermath of their injury. This allows them to focus on their recovery and rehabilitation, allowing them to be in the best position to seek further employment, or ensure that they are adequately compensated for a loss that was not their fault.
If you have suffered an injury abroad as a result of your service and are considering pursuing a claim for compensation, Bolt Burdon Kemp can help. Please contact our team here for free initial and confidential advice.