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Are the Proposed Personal Injury Reforms Fair?

by Emma Flood Curated Media on May 17, 2016

At the beginning of this month, the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) held their annual conference in Birmingham. The main topic of discussion at the conference was the proposed personal injury reforms due to make their way through parliament later this year. The proposed reforms have been met with much criticism for denying many ordinary people access to justice, and the right to receive fair compensation for their injuries. This post looks at the arguments on both sides of the reforms put forward at the conference.

The Government Proposals

Justice minister Lord Faulks spoke at the conference on behalf of the government. He stated that despite criticism for a number of parties, there would be no backtracking on the controversial plans for reform of the personal injury sector. Lord Faulks spoke at the conference about how he plans to push forward with primary and secondary legislation due to be introduced in 2017, to scrap general damages for soft-tissue injuries such as whiplash and raise the small claims limit to £5000 for all personal injury claims. He also stated that the government is fully committed to the reforms and will introduce the proposed legislation following the EU referendum. Faulks said about low-level personal injury claims:

‘There is also no doubt that many such claims are driven by a substantial industry that encourages unnecessary, inappropriate or even fraudulent claims through cold calling and other social nuisances.’

Faulks outlined that the small claims threshold, set at £1000 has remained the same for 25 years and claimed  ‘the time is right’ to introduce the change as part of a package of reforms.

Opposition to the Reforms

However, Faulks was challenged by delegates at the conferenced who attacked the claims related to the earlier Jackson reforms asking where the insurance savings from the reforms had gone, and what help litigants would receive if the small claims limit increased.  Faulks was met with laughs from the delegates after stating that he did not know where the increased revenue for insurers had gone after the implementation of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act in 2013 – but he was sure consumers would see the savings following the introduction of the new proposals.

The reforms are opposed by a coalition of leading personal injury solicitors, charities and other parties involved in the personal injury market operating under the name Access to Justice (A2J). The group is headed by Martin Coyne managing partner of Manchester firm Ralli; Andrew Twambley, senior partner of Amelans and co-founder of Injury Lawyers 4U and also Matthew Maxwell Scott, from Slater & Gordon – with many other leading firms pledging support for the cause.

A2J has commissioned research from Capital Economics, indicating that the data provided to the government concerning insurance claims may not be entirely accurate. Coyne said:

“the data presented by the insurance industry over the years is corrupt. But, by ceaseless repetition, this dodgy data has been accepted as fact by many people – including, I’m sad to say, government ministers”.

Coyne went on to describe how he does not believe that fraudulent insurance claims have had an effect on insurance premiums and that a rise in prices has simply come from the insurance companies themselves seeking larger profits. Coyne also has concerns about the impact this will have on those working in the sector.

It will be interesting to see how the battle between the government and the industry plays out, and also if the reforms are implemented by the government whether the potential negative effects outlined by A2J will be realised.

Emma Flood Curated Media

Emma Flood Curated Media

Legal Copywriter and Legal Marketing Assistant for Personal Injury Law Firms at Curated Media
Emma Flood is a first class law graduate in the UK. Legal Content Writer and Marketing Assistant at Curated Media, Emma and the team write bespoke legal content for law firms across the UK and can help you make the most out of the Internet through effective content marketing. Visit www.curatedmedia.co.uk to find out more.
Emma Flood Curated Media

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