The COVID-19 Pandemic will almost certainly give rise to claims for personal injury in a range of contexts. To defend such claims it will be necessary to show that the applicable duty of care, be it that between employer and employee or occupier and lawful visitor or any other scenario in which a duty of care exists, was discharged. What is required to discharge the applicable duty of care will be specific to each case on its own facts and not just what steps were taken but given the rapidly changing events and relevant guidance in place at different times when such steps were taken. A Defendant who can evidence positive efforts to comply with the relevant guidance in force at the time of an event or events giving rise to a claim will be in a good positive to mount a positive defence irrespective of whether those efforts would have complied with later changed guidance.
To evidence such compliance a documented Guidance Tracker would be a very useful tool and could be used as the basis of a defence to such a claim. Set out below are links to a number of example Guidance Trackers for each of the constituent nations of the UK given the divergence in guidance over the course of the pandemic. These are intended to be live documents and will be updated as and when further guidance is issued*. It is envisaged that such a resource would be used specifically in contemplation of litigation, be that a proactive method to keep an ongoing record of positive steps taken to discharge the applicable duty of care or reactive and an aid to documenting such steps retrospectively when actually faced with a claim. As such the document is marked as ‘Privileged’, it is not envisaged that such a document would be used as evidence in a case but as a tool to assist with the formulation of a defence and collation of evidence in support of it.
The broad guidance is summarised on the left of the document with hyperlinks to the detailed guidance, this being presented in a chronological manner so corresponding steps actually taken in response to the changing situation and guidance in place can be recorded on the right. Properly completed and with links to or attached supporting documents such as relevant risk assessments such a document would be a very powerful tool to assist with the handling of COVID-19 related claims.
The downloadable documents below are an illustrative example of an approach that could be taken. No charge is made to any party who wishes to make use of any of these documents. To download the Guidance Tracker for individual UK nations please click on the named link below:
*The current downloadable versions are marked as ‘v2’ and were published on 7 July 2020 replacing ‘v1‘ published on 16 June 2020.
Whilst we take care to ensure that the material in the Guidance Tracker is correct, it is made available for information only, and no representation is given as to its quality, accuracy, fitness for purpose, or usefulness. In particular, the contents of this Guidance Tracker do not give specific legal advice, should not be relied on as doing so, are not a substitute for specific advice relevant to particular circumstances. Plexus Law accepts no responsibility for any loss which may arise from reliance on information or materials published in this Guidance Tracker.