The government has confirmed it is pressing on with raising the small claims limit, despite furore from the Law Society and the wider profession.
In a long-awaited response to last year’s autumn statement, the MoJ said it wanted to raise the limit in the small claims court for all personal injury claims from £1,000 to £5,000. The Law Society has responded by alleging that the plan will clog up the courts with litigants in person while also ‘completely undermining the right of ordinary people to receive full and proper compensation’.
The full consultation admitted that litigants with claims under £5,000 will not normally need to appoint a solicitor to act on their behalf.
But it adds: ‘It is the government’s view that low-value RTA related claims are not so complex that claimants routinely require legal representation to pursue them.’
The government’s position on the other element of George Osborne’s proposals, a ban on general damages for whiplash, appears more ambiguous. The MoJ consultation proposes either scrapping damages or placing a cap of £425 for ‘minor’ whiplash injuries.
Other measures that have been added to Osborne’s ideas include a transparent tariff system of compensation payments for claims with more significant injuries: options being examined are for different amounts where the injury duration is greater than either six or nine months.
In news that will be welcomed by claimant lawyers, the government also proposes banning offers to settle claims without medical evidence, stressing that all claims would need a report from a MedCo-accredited medical expert to receive compensation.