What is the Overseas Operations Bill - and Why Does it Matter?

Gavin Hughes Military Accident Solicitor
Author:
Gavin Hughes
Partner, Military Claims Solicitor
Date:
24/02/2021

The Overseas Operations Bill will introduce a six-year time limit on military service personnel bringing civil claims for an injury sustained abroad.

This affects members of the British Armed Forces who need to claim for compensation for a personal injury, or as a result of a death while carrying out duties abroad to deal with terrorism, civil unrest or serious public disorder.

The legislation, which is currently going through Parliament, appears to have been introduced on the basis of concerns around how many allegations and legal claims were made following the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, many of which were later found to be false.

It will introduce what’s being called a ‘triple lock’, which is intended to give serving Armed Forces personnel and veterans more certainty around potential prosecution decisions concerning activity during overseas operations.

This includes a presumption against prosecution for alleged offences committed more than five years ago, and the need to get the consent of the Attorney General before any prosecution can proceed.

However, the second part of the Bill, which would set down the new time limit on claiming for injuries sustained during overseas operations is a big concern for service personnel.

Many campaigners, as well as our own expert Military Claims Solicitors, say introducing a six-year limitation period could negatively affect people who need help. For example, a person may be suffering with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), which may only be diagnosed several years after the traumas which caused the injury.

It’s important that there are measures in place that protect people who serve in our Armed Forces from false allegations and claims, and that they feel that they are supported by our legal system.

But it’s also important that the same legal system recognises the individual’s right to hold the Ministry of Defence (MoD) accountable in cases where they sustain often life-changing injuries through no fault of their own because of the MoD’s negligence. 

In many cases, the full extent of those injuries are quite apparent, but in other circumstances, such as with PTSD, it may take many months, if not years, for someone to recognise that they’re suffering from an injury and come to terms with what that means for them personally and professionally. 

In this instance, it’s vitally important that members of the Armed Forces have the opportunity to proceed with claims to recover career-related loss of earnings, access to the care and rehabilitation that they need, and the six-year limitation for claims could prevent that from happening.

Like many other campaigners working with active Armed Forces personnel and veterans, we’d call on HM Government to review the current Overseas Operations Bill to ensure that service personnel are not placed in a worse position than they were currently.

If you’ve developed PTSD as a result of serving in the British Armed Forces, it’s only right that you get the compensation you need, so you can get vital support and rehabilitation and cover any financial losses. For more information see Military PTSD Claims.

Our Military Claims Solicitors have a strong track record of helping injured Armed Forces personnel and veterans make civil claims for compensation. Contact us for a free claims assessment and we’ll be happy to discuss your situation with you. In all the cases we take on, we proceed on a No Win, No Fee basis.

For free legal advice call our Military Personal Injury Solicitors

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