We have formed a strategic alliance with leading personal injury solicitor oganisations. The move follows government proposals to raise the small claims limit for personal injuries to £5,000 and stop compensation for minor soft-tissue injuries arising from road accidents.
The Law Society has joined forces with leading claimant solicitors representing victims of personal injury in a strategic alliance.
The move comes in response to the government’s proposals - announced last year - to raise the small claims limit for personal injury claims to £5,000 and stop compensation payments for minor soft tissue injuries (arising from road traffic accidents).
The government has not yet published its plans and, following the EU referendum, it is difficult to predict when the consultation will be published. Nevertheless, our preparations will continue apace.
The alliance comprises the Law Society, the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers and the Motor Accident Solicitors Society. The members are united around a shared concern that the government’s proposals would undermine the rights of ordinary people to receive full and proper compensation.
This would leave claimants unable to seek legal redress for often debilitating injuries sustained through no fault of their own.
The government’s view appears to be that preventing people making legitimate claims for minor soft tissue injuries is a way of stopping fraudulent claims. But we believe the best way to deal with fraud is to target the fraudsters - not to restrict people’s legal rights which will penalise honest claimants who have been genuinely injured and have legitimate claims.
The aim of the strategic alliance is simple - it is about safeguarding the public interest. We will do this by ensuring that ordinary people can still claim for the injuries they suffer through no fault of their own.
We will also fight to help people to be represented by a solicitor and be able to recover their legal costs. That should be the case irrespective of whether the injury is minor. We therefore also wish to ensure that the increase in the small claims limit rises in line with inflation.
Economic consultants Compass Lexecon have been appointed to collate and analyse data and present a balanced, fair report on the impact a of these proposals if they are adopted.
The report will focus on:
- the impact of the Legal Aid Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act (LASPO) which, among other things, severely limited access to legal aid
- the impact of other initiatives such as the Portal and MedCo. We are gravely concerned that although considerable savings have been made, these are not being passed on through reduced motor insurance premiums
- the government’s new proposals on minor soft tissue claims and increasing the small claims cap. The report will look at whether these will translate to lower premiums and will consider the impact on access to justice for ordinary people and the vulnerable with legitimate claims
- the effect on the economy through reduced tax revenue, as well as the impact on the NHS and governments’ ability to recover social security compensation
- the government’s concerns about Claims Management Companies (CMCs) flooding the market if claims are handled without representation by a legal professional This is coupled with the concern of incorrect settlement amounts being paid if claims are pursued by litigants in person.
Alliance members have met regularly, and the meetings have included claimant stakeholders as well as insurers and defendant solicitors. It is striking that there are high levels of concern about the government’s proposals across the solicitor profession.
The alliance is determined to put forward a compelling case to resist these proposals, and we will continue to keep you informed of developments.