The Office of Rail and Road shows that a staggering number of rail accidents happen each year, not only causing major disruption but also resulting in injuries, which at times are fatal.

The cause of such accidents can be extremely complicated and claims could potentially be against several different liable parties. For that reason, there are specific provisions that are set out in a mandatory protocol, the “Claims and Handling Allocation” agreement (CAHA).

One of the aims of the CAHA is to ensure that members of the public who have suffered bereavement, injury or loss as a result of a railway accident can make a single claim against any party that is potentially liable. This avoids being embroiled in the often complex legal and contractual relations between the other potential parties.

The CAHA itself declares its aims as:-

  • Helping to ensure that third parties with claims against the rail industry are not prejudiced, as a result of the privatisation and division of activities formerly undertaken by the British Railways Board;
  • To minimise the scope for, and the time spent on, disputes over the allocation within the industry of liability for third-party claims.

The register states that the agreements seek to meet its aim of protecting third parties by:-

  • Avoiding the need to establish which party may be legally liable;
  • Avoiding delays in settlement whilst liability is allocated within the rail industry;
  • Requiring claims be to handled efficiently and promptly.

I am currently acting in a claim on behalf of a person that was injured in a train derailment and I have recently seen the agreement come into place. Due to its complexity, the cause of the derailment continues to be investigated by the Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB), but one of the parties (under the agreement) has confirmed that they are authorised to compensate the injured person.