The Law Society has criticised a government plan to raise the small claims limit for personal injury claims to £5,000 and stop compensation payments for road traffic ‘minor’ soft tissue injuries.
Responding to the proposals, Law Society president Jonathan Smithers said:
‘The Law Society is gravely concerned that these proposals will completely undermine the right of ordinary citizens to receive full and proper compensation from those that have injured them through negligence. These proposals will stop people obtaining legal advice for all personal injury claims below £5,000 and stop people claiming for often debilitating injuries arising from road traffic accidents if these injuries are considered minor.
‘This is a fivefold increase in the present level of cases currently within the small claims procedure, benefiting those who have negligently harmed people and will result in more people trying to work their way through a complex court system without any legal advice. People recovering from their injuries will have to bring claims as litigants in person (without any legal advice) and this can be very unfair because those defending the claims can often afford to pay for legal advice. This therefore undermines ordinary people’s ability to access justice. Especially if defendants simply deny liability forcing people to fight through the courts without legal help.
‘Personal injury claims, even lower value claims, can include serious injuries arising from the fault of an employer or other road traffic accidents where legal rights can be very complex and the injuries caused debilitating. A new limit of £5000 will mean personal injuries including facial scarring would be considered as ’small claims’. This is totally unacceptable.
‘These proposals are not, as stated, about stopping fraudulent claims. Fraudulent claims are clearly repellent but they should be dealt with by targeting the fraudsters and not the vast majority of honest claimants who have been injured and bring genuine claims.
‘We await the detail of the government’s proposals. And we will be responding to the consultation robustly.’