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Report

Annual review 2021 — Casualty and Occupational disease

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In this short podcast, Partners Graham Dean and Jim Byard look at the 'Annual review 2021 — Casualty and Occupational disease', and provide a round-up of the key developments which have impacted casualty and occupational disease claims in 2021 and also look at what is ahead for this year and beyond.

 

Introduction

This annual review:

  • considers the judicial and legislative developments seen in 2021
  • provides a situational analysis of the personal injury market specific to EL/PL casualty and occupational disease claims
  • examines which current trends are likely to emerge in 2022 and beyond.

Executive summary

2021 saw the pandemic’s influence across many areas; from declining workplace accidents, a reduction in both new casualty claim notifications and litigation; yet, a corresponding rise in new cases of workplace stress, anxiety and depression.

  • Workplace accidents (non-fatal) reduced from 693,000 (2019/2020) to 441,000 (2020/2021), a decline of 36%.
  • New claim notifications for portal (fast track) EL and PL claims stood at 29,470 (employers’ liability) and 37,460 (public liability) for the full calendar year 2021; this compares to 31,205 (EL) and 41,701 (PL) for calendar year 2020 (partially impacted by the pandemic).
  • In comparison to 2019 (pre-pandemic) levels of 43,858 (EL) and 54,168 (PL), calendar year 2021 revealed reductions of 33% for employers’ liability and 31% for public liability claims submitted through the portal. CRU data revealed declines of 33,430 (EL) and 21,301 (PL) for the first full year of the pandemic.
  • Litigation — whilst suffering from a time lag in reporting, HMCTS data for quarter 1 and quarter 2 in 2021 revealed a reduction in personal injury claims issued of 7% and 23% respectively, compared to pre-pandemic levels. This is on top of a 12% reduction seen for the full year 2020, compared to 2019 (pre-pandemic).
  • Workplace stress, anxiety and depression — HSE statistics (December 2021) revealed an additional 104,000 new cases, measured between April 2020 and March 2021, compared to the corresponding period in the previous year. New and longstanding cases now stand at a record level of 822,000.
  • COVID-19 — 93,000 (self-reported) incidents of employees contracting COVID-19 due to workplace exposure.
  • Mesothelioma mortality — HSE statistics in July 2021 revealed a 7% reduction in deaths — 2,369 deaths seen in 2019 compared to the static levels shown in the years 2012 to 2018.
  • 12,000 lung disease deaths were linked to occupational exposure — identical to that seen in 2019/2020.
  • An extension of the fixed recoverable costs regime for all EL/PL cases (save asbestos) having a value of £100,000 or less. Implantation is likely in 2022.
  • Publication of the CJC’s final report on solicitors guideline hourly rates (31 July 2021) recommended increases of broadly 20% to the charging levels for legal professionals. The guidelines were last set in 2010; the recommendations presently await approval from the Master of the Rolls.
  • Revised actuarial predictions for the future financial cost to the insurance industry in relation to asbestos liabilities suggest a “central scenario” of future costs of £4.9 billion (2020 to 2060), alongside £3.4 billion already incurred, making a total estimated cost of £8.3 billion. This compares with the previous estimate made in 2009 of financial liabilities, which covered the period up until 2050, of £11 billion.

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