Proposed increase in personal injury claims limits attacked

Posted Jan 22, 2018.

Comments made during the recent justice select committee meeting held to discuss the Governments proposed radical changes to personal injury claims legislation has resulted in heavy criticism from solicitors and law firms and representative bodies who represent clients making personal injury claims.

The most significant changes being proposed include a huge increase in the small claims limit from its current level of £1,000 to £5,000 for RTA (Road Traffic Accident) claims, including whiplash, and up to £2,000 for other types of personal injury claims such as accidents at work or in a public place. These proposed changes are significant because solicitors costs are not recoverable under the small claims limit rules, meaning that should the proposals come into force, a huge number of people who have been injured through no fault of their own could be on their own and having to represent themselves in court to seek adequate compensation. Such lack of qualified and professional legal representation is likely to result in an extremely worrying lack of access justice for many citizens in England and Wales. 

At the meeting, justice minister Lord Keen claimed that the increases were required because “many” fraudulent claims were made each year, but when asked for evidence of such fraud he admitted that he could not put a number on it. Lord Keen also suggested that Citizens Advice could help individuals represent themselves (referred to as ‘litigants in person’ or ‘LIP’ for short) when making a claim, even though the agency has suffered huge cut backs in recent years and is already under huge pressure to help citizens in a wide range of other areas. He also suggested that Claims Management Companies (‘CMCs’) could also help.

Chairman of the Motor Accident Solicitors Society said: 
“It is extremely disappointing, but not surprising in the slightest, that the government continues not to listen and is formulating this major reform programme with little or no reliable data or evidence.”

Brett Dixon, president of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers also commented: 
 “The government must listen to the evidence that neck, back and whiplash claims are falling…latest figures from the Compensation Recovery Unit (CRU) show that these claims have fallen by 10% since 2012/13. We do not need to increase the small claims limit and force injured people to risk losing the compensation they need to address a problem which simply does not exist…and contrary to evidence given to the justice select committee, many whiplash claims are not, in fact, fraudulent. Proven fraud is found in just 0.25% of all motor related claims…personal injury fraud is just a fraction of that, and fraudulent whiplash claims an even smaller fraction.”

Following further debate and analysis, an announcement is expected on the Governments decision later this year.