How should I advise a client’s mother on signing a form of parental idemnity in a personal injury claim?
I am a personal injury solicitor and I was recently instructed by the mother of a 10-year-old who was knocked over by a car and sustained a significant leg fracture. The insurers for the car driver approached my client’s mother directly and, after obtaining medical evidence, have made what appears to be a reasonable offer of settlement. My client’s mother wishes to accept the offer on behalf of her son. However, she has been told by the insurance company that they will not release the settlement monies unless she signs a form of parental indemnity. How should I advise her?
It would be advisable first to point out to the insurance company that under no circumstances should they correspond directly with the Litigation Friend where they are aware that you are on record as acting for her.
CPR 21.10 states that ‘no settlement, compromise or payment (including any voluntary payment) and no acceptance of money paid into court shall be valid, so far as it relates to a claim by, on behalf of or against a child or protected party, without the approval of the court’.
Accordingly, you would not be acting in the best interests of your client if you were to advise the mother to settle her son’s claim through the use of a form of parental indemnity. In doing so you might expose your firm to a claim for professional negligence at some future date. Any settlement arising from the use of a form of parental indemnity would not be recognised as valid by the court.
For further guidance please see www.justice.gov.uk/courts/procedure-rules/civil/rules/part21
This column is compiled by the Law Society’s Practice Advice Service, telephone 020 7320 5675. Comments relating to the questions should be sent to Mrs. Anjali Mouelhi, Solicitor Technical Lead, The Law Society, 113 Chancery Lane, London, WC2A 1PL.
While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information in this article, it does not constitute legal advice and cannot be relied upon as such. The Law Society does not accept any responsibility for liabilities arising as a result of reliance upon the information given.