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Justice Committee - Personal injury reforms should be delayed

Lady JusticeThe increase in the small claims limit for personal injury claims has caused controversy over the last few years, especially amongst solicitors who feel the changes will lead to many claimants without legal representation. Now, the Justice Committee has announced that increasing the small claims limit for personal injury claims could result in several significant justice concerns.

The Justice Committee examined the impact of raising the personal injury small claims limit from £1,000 to £2,000 and to £5,000 for all road traffic accident claims and published a report on the findings detailing their primary concerns, with the majority focusing on the financial and procedural barriers faced by many claimants.

In the report, the Justice Committee highlighted concerns that many personal injury claimants are unlikely to have sufficient legal representation as a result of the small claims limit increase. In addition, many claimants will not have legal representation as many are unable to recover their legal costs from the other side if the claim is successful. The Committee added that the small claims rise will also limit access to justice for many claimants.

In addition to the concerns above, the Justice Committee also revealed worries over the electronic platform introduced by the Ministry of Justice to help unrepresented claimants. They said that the platform is at risk of falling short of its goal to create a claims process that guarantees “unimpeded access to the courts”.

Justice Committee Conclusions

The Justice Committee also added during its conclusions that the small claims limit should be increased by reflect inflation and that the starting point for recommendations should be April 1999. The Justice Committee also added that it endorses the steps taken by the UK Government and insurance industry to tackle insurance fraud, but that it is troubled by a lack of reliable data on insurance fraud. The Justice Committee finished by adding that the potential savings to motor insurance customers are central to the policy justification, but the committee feels the government’s estimate of the pass-through rate is over optimistic.

Bob Neil MP, Chair of the Justice Committee, said that access to justice is a cornerstone of the rule of law and the small claims limit reforms are putting that right into doubt. He added that while the Ministry of Justice has made some welcome moves to develop an electronic platform for use by those without legal representation, the Justice Committee is still to be convinced on its effectiveness.

Andrew Twambley, spokesperson for Access to Justice (A2J), said that the Justice Committee’s report is a clear message for ministers in the Justice department to re-think their personal injury reforms. The report shows that the reforms are poorly thought through and aren’t based off of solid evidence; they will punish genuine claimants.

Here at Fonseca Law, we’re experts in all forms of personal injury claims, so if you’ve been injured through no fault of your own, get in touch today. You can reach us on enquiries@fonsecalaw.co.uk, call 01495 303124, or pop into our offices based in Ebbw Vale, South Wales.