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Association of Personal Injury Lawyers reports on latest Government folly
Detail of what is planned for small claims reform has been published today in the Prisons and Courts Bill and in the Government’s response to its consultation on reforming the small claims process. In summary:
• There will be a fixed tariff for compensation for general damages, divided into bands, for whiplash injuries lasting up to two years.
• In cases of contributory negligence, or in exceptional circumstances, the judiciary will be able to decrease or increase (respectively) the tariff awarded, with increases capped at 20 per cent.
• There will be a ban on making or requesting pre-medical offers for whiplash claims.
These measures are to be introduced through part five of the Bill.
The Government has also announced its plans to increase the small claims court limit for all RTA personal injury claims to £5,000. The limit for all other types of personal injury claims is to be increased to £2,000. These measures will be introduced through secondary legislation, and the Government’s aim is that all the changes are implemented as a package on 1 October 2018.
Shortly before the Bill was introduced, the Government published its response to its consultation.
In its public response to the announcements, the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers said that people injured in traffic incidents are to be robbed of fair compensation as a result of the Government’s deluded belief that insurance premiums will fall as a result. President Neil Sugarman said “expensive motor repairs and repeated hikes in insurance premium tax are both major factors in the cost of motor premiums, yet the Government is fanatical about supressing the right to claim for legitimate injuries instead.”
He also warned that proposals to force more claims into the small claims court system will mean nuisance calls and texts about personal injury claims will reach ‘epidemic’ proportions.
“There will be an explosion of calls and texts from claims management companies encouraging people to make personal injury claims, even if they haven’t been injured,” he said. The small claims court is designed for people to represent themselves and this will just be a business opportunity for claims management companies, which make the cold calls and texts, who will tout for claims just as they do for people who were mis-sold payment protection insurance.”
As yet, there is no timetable for the Bill. APIL’s executive committee will study the detail over coming days before lobbying resumes in earnest as the legislation begins its passage through the House of Commons.
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