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British Armed Forces review of compensation scheme

Posted on 9 May 2023

Review of the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme expected soon

Posted in Legal news

Read time: 3 minutes

The Armed Forces Compensation Scheme is undergoing its second quinquennial review (QQR) which is expected to be finalised very soon. The independent review began in Spring 2022. The purpose of review is to make sure that the scheme remains fit for purpose. This review will look at concerns about processes and policies. Some of the key issues that are expected to be addressed in the review are set out below. 

The Independent Medical Group

The Independent Medical Group is the medical body that advises the MOD on both medical and scientific aspects of the AFCS. Whilst designed to be independent, it is sponsored by the MOD and the review will look at concerns as to the lack of in-built safeguards to ensure its independence and diversity. 

The Claims Process

Under the AFCS, it is for the Claimant to submit evidence to support both the fact of the injury and also that it was caused by service. There has been suggestions that the process of evidence gathering and submission can be overly burdensome and the amount and the nature of the evidence required is unclear. These criticisms apply particularly when it comes to multiple and complex injuries, such as mental health injuries. In addressing these concerns the review is expected to look possibilities:

  1. setting more clear and reasonable timescales for submitting evidence
  2. creating a formal evidence checklist for claimants. 

The relationship between Claimants and Caseworkers. 

The review is also to consider training, skills and policies relating to caseworkers as there is a general sense that the process can become quite adversarial. In legal terms we use this to refer to the way parties interact in relation to disputes. Court cases where matters are not agreed and each side has to argue their case in court and where communications can be quite hostile and aggressive are what we call ‘adversarial’. The AFCS certainly should not be conducted or administered in this manner, particularly as it is maintained that it is a compensation scheme which can be accessed directly by those injured and without having to have legal advice or representation. 

Tariff Descriptors 

The way any award is calculated under the scheme is by identifying which ‘tariff descriptor’ an injury most matches. Cases of multiple injuries and cases where an injury could fall under more than one descriptor can become complicated. The review will be looking at the adequacy of the current descriptors when it comes to multiple injury cases and those with more complicated injuries, including mental illness. 

Reconsiderations and Appeal 

Currently the reconsideration and appeal processes are considered to be lengthy and slow and the review will address this concern 

Previous Reviews. 

The AFCS was first independently reviewed in 2009/2010 and was found to be fundamentally sound but recommendations were made for improvements, which were all subsequently implemented. This first review also directed that there be quinquennial reviews (every 5 years) of the scheme. The first QQR was in 2017. The current review will also provide an overview of developments since the 2017 review and may also consider the impact of the covid pandemic on the scheme.