New procedure to obtain HMRC Employment Histories: Yates v HMRC

In Yates v HMRC [2014] EWCH 2311 (QB), the High Court has set out a new procedure to allow families and legal representatives of people who have died from an asbestos related disease to obtain a copy of the victim’s employment history from Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) whilst the Deregulation Bill 2014 is under consideration.
 
The Deregulation Bill seeks to allow HMRC to disclose information held by them to persons entitled to bring proceedings under the fatal accident legislation, to persons entitled to bring proceedings for personal injury for the benefit of a Deceased person’s Estate, or to persons claiming to be eligible under section 3 of the Mesothelioma Act 2014 for a payment under the Diffuse Mesothelioma Payment Scheme. However, it is anticipated that the Deregulation Bill will not be passed until the end of this year and in the interim, the procedure under Yates v HMRC is to be applied.
 
Under the new procedure, a claim should be issued at the Royal Courts of Justice against “persons unknown”. The Claimant can then apply by email to the High Court with a witness statement and draft order to obtain a disclosure order. The format and contents of the documents are set out in the annex to Yates v HMRC.
 
In Yates v HMRC, Master McCloud says that “the underlying approach to asbestos claims places the doing of justice, at speed and with improved efficiency, at the forefront; formalities of procedure take second place if they interfere with that.” The new procedure has been agreed with the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) and HMRC and seeks to balance justice and procedure, which will enable claims to progress and save costs and Court time.