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Military deafness claims

Serving in the armed forces can be noisy, whether on land, in the air, or at sea. In some respects, it is unavoidable and comes with the territory, especially if you’ve been on the front lines or your job requires you to be around high noise for long periods. However, the installation of appropriate hearing protection prevents this. Hearing protection is often unavailable or entirely inappropriate for the environment in which military personnel operate.

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Do you suffer from hearing loss due to military service? You may be due compensation.

However, hearing loss or tinnitus (ringing in the ears) are not inevitable consequences of military life. Like any employer, the MoD has a duty of care to safeguard you from the risk of hearing damage – for example, by providing adequate ear protection against noise from:

  • gun and artillery fire
  • mortars
  • explosions
  • pyrotechnics
  • aircraft noise
  • vehicle engine noise

You’re not alone

An estimated 300,000* ex-armed forces personnel in the UK suffer from noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) and tinnitus. What’s more, if your hearing problems are due to long-term exposure to excessive noise while in service, you might be entitled to compensation. If you think your hearing’s suffered, you may have a case – even if you’ve previously been told you have no hearing problems or been turned down for a payment under the AFCS or War Pension schemes. Both these no-fault schemes have very strict criteria, usually resulting in smaller compensation payments.

*Source: The Royal British Legion, Lost Voices’ report (2014)

You don’t have to suffer in silence

NIHL and tinnitus caused by military equipment can be debilitating, affecting all aspects of life – yet they are avoidable. In military circles, people have known about them for decades, but many sufferers prefer to remain silent, often out of loyalty towards their regiment or the MoD. Or perhaps they feel responsible, as it was their choice to enlist. Or maybe they don’t want to admit to suffering from hearing loss.

Why use us?

Why Use Us? Hugh James has one of the country’s largest Military Departments and currently represents thousands of military clients. We have extensive expertise in taking cases to trial where necessary. Our team includes former service members, and our lawyers have received national recognition for their efforts on behalf of our military clients. We earned the Outstanding Case of the Year award for representing a former Royal Marine who experienced hearing loss, forcing him to leave the Military. We are recognised as an industry leader.

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Get in touch

If you’ve suffered hearing damage during your time in service – past or present – our team is ready to listen. Get in touch today.

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Key contact

Simon Ellis


Simon Ellis is a Partner with Hugh James and has worked with the firm for more than 25 years, having trained and qualified here. Simon heads up the Military Department, advising and assisting current and former military personnel with various health conditions and injuries. He specialises in claims such as hearing loss, non-freezing cold injuries, compartment syndrome and military injury cases. He is often asked to advise on more unusual claims in the military context.

Simon and his team have been excellent throughout the lengthy process. From start to finish, they have displayed the utmost professionalism and excellent levels of communication. I cannot recommend Simon and the team highly enough!

Alastair Inglis

Simon Ellis handles complex and difficult military claims – ranging from noise induced hearing loss, through non-freezing cold injury to chronic compartment syndrome.

The Legal 500

The firm has a thriving team dealing with military claims which is probably one of the larger such teams in the UK.

The Legal 500

I have just had my claim against the MOD settled through Hugh James Solicitors. I have to say that they worked very hard to get my case through from start to finish. In particular Nia-Wyn Evans from the military department in Hugh James. Nia went over and beyond the call of duty on many occasions making sure I knew what was happening at each stage of this process. Nia made me feel at ease when I had queries and she was very compassionate and professional throughout my case. I am very happy with my experience with Hugh James solicitors and would recommend them to any serving member of the armed forces or veteran seeking legal advice.


I would highly recommend Hugh James and, Nia-Wyn Evans and all those who helped in the Military claims Department.
I contacted Hugh James solicitors after being informed I was being medically discharged and after a failed AFCS claim. They spent lots of time listening and discussing what most would find a complex situation. They understood most military terminology which made the process even easier.
Nia kept me informed though out, clarifying anything I didn’t understand. I would not hesitate instructing Hugh James solicitors in the future.


“The military team was great and they took a great interest in my case. I was assigned a personal solicitor/barrister who guided and took me through every step on my case from the beginning to the end. I was able to get in touch with her anytime, any day and month. My assigned personal solicitor/ barrister and her team managed to secure the best deal and settlement for me.
I just want to say a big thank you to Nia-Wyn and her team and Hugh James.”


Military deafness matrix

Partner Simon Ellis explains the military the new matrix:

The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has agreed to drop legal defences that have long hindered armed forces personnel from securing compensation for hearing loss. The MoD reached a settlement with law firm Hugh James, acknowledging a duty of care to military members who suffered hearing loss during service. The MoD will no longer use the ‘limitation’ defence, which blocked late claims, or dispute noise exposure levels. This historic agreement benefits many current and former military personnel, who now only need to prove their hearing loss occurred during their service.

The agreement includes a ‘matrix’ based on the claimant’s service end date, ensuring easier and cost-effective settlements. The MoD will waive previous defences for those who sign up with Hugh James by January 30, 2026. Servicemen and women who served post-1987 and can demonstrate noise-induced hearing loss are entitled to compensation. However, the MoD may not extend the same terms to claimants represented by other law firms.

This development follows the case of former Royal Marine James Barry, who was awarded £713,715 after the MoD was found negligent in providing adequate hearing protection. The MoD’s acknowledgment reduces the scope of an upcoming trial to determining compensation amounts. The trial is expected next year, and it is likely that subsequent cases will be resolved without court proceedings. The agreement marks significant progress for military personnel seeking justice for hearing loss due to service.

James’ story

James Barry, a former Royal Marine, filed a claim against the Ministry of Defence (MoD) for noise-induced hearing loss, alleging failure to provide adequate hearing protection. Despite initial denial, the MoD conceded primary liability shortly before trial but argued contributory negligence, claiming James did not consistently use provided hearing protection. The court rejected this argument, affirming James’ use of protection when practical. The court addressed three main issues: contributory negligence, methodology for diagnosing noise-induced hearing loss, and the calculation of future earnings and disability under the Ogden Tables. The court found no contributory negligence on James’ part, accepted both methods for diagnosing hearing loss presented by experts, and ruled James was disabled under the Ogden Tables criteria.

James’ future earnings were assessed on the assumption he would have completed a 20-year military service. The court determined an appropriate reduction factor of 0.56, awarding Barry over £600,000 for past and future loss of earnings. The MoD has applied to appeal this decision, and Barry awaits a Court of Appeal Judge’s decision on whether the issue will proceed to a full hearing.

Read more about the story here

Speaking of the ruling, Ruth Davies said:

“The last six years have been very difficult for James. James was very proud of being a Royal Marine and, through no fault of his own, has had to come to terms with his hearing loss and the loss of his career. Whilst the compensation will not make up for James’ disability and having to leave the job he loved, it is what he deserves and will help him to re-build his life and find a fulfilling career that he can follow notwithstanding his hearing problems.”

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Your questions answered

Hugh James can help you if you were harmed in the military, MoD, or commercial defence contractor industry. To win compensation for your injuries, you must prove that someone else’s negligence caused or worsened it. – we will help you do that.

All military claims are different, and the effects of injuries are unique to each person. The effects may be temporary, yet they may prevent you from working or living normally. However, severe injuries can be devastating. Your compensation can fund lifelong care and rehabilitation.

Hugh James understands the military work environment and way of life. Our size, depth of knowledge, and experience allow us to ensure that our clients’ interests and goals are given the attention they deserve.

We communicate with our clients via Microsoft Teams or Zoom and, when necessary, in person. We have access to the top medical experts and barristers who specialise in military matters, and we ensure that our clients benefit from these contacts.

Unknown to many, Crown Immunity (which protects the MoD from civil or criminal prosecution) was lifted in 1987. This means you have every right to make a claim – even if you’ve previously been turned down through the no-fault and very strict Armed Forces Compensation Scheme (AFCS) or War Pension Scheme.

Whether you’re a veteran or still serving, our highly experienced Military Services team will advise you for free on whether you have a civil claim for compensation. If we think you have a strong case, we’ll represent you on a no-win, no-fee basis. Plus, you can bring a civil claim at the same time as an AFCS or War Pension claim.

The Royal British Legion and Veterans Agency can help you apply for the AFCS or War Pension Scheme, or we can if you prefer. Either way, we always aim to achieve the best outcome for you, and to make the process as straightforward and simple as possible.

While it is possible to represent yourself, engaging the services of highly specialised military claims solicitors will help you to successfully navigate the civilian courts. This is especially important when making a claim against an organisation like the MoD. Choosing a firm of solicitors with a proven track record in making successful military deafness cases will give you the confidence you need to know you have the best chance possible of achieving a positive outcome.