By Colin Richmond
The Law Society Gazette reports this morning that the Ministry of Justice is to press ahead with plans to increase the small claims limit in personal injury claims.
The limit, currently £1,000, will increase to £5,000 for whiplash claims and £2,000 for all other personal injury claims.
Having originally proposed a complete ban on certain low-value claims, along with the possibility of increasing the limit to £5,000 across the board, this represents something of a retreat from the government’s original position. That is unlikely, however, to satisfy claimant personal injury lawyers, given that the new limit for whiplash claims will effectively remove legal representation from the majority of such cases, with the on-going argument that access to justice will be impeded.
Under the new proposals, a fixed-tariff scheme for whiplash claims will be introduced. There will also be a ban on making offers to settle whiplash claims without medical evidence.
The Gazette reports that although the change to the small claims limit requires only secondary legislation, the government does not plan to introduce it before the Prison and Courts Bill has become legislation. The ban on settling claims without medical evidence and the new whiplash tariff will require primary legislation and will form part of that Bill.
According to the MOJ, insurers will be expected to reduce car insurance premiums by an average of around £40 a year as a result of the reforms, although many claimant lawyers have already expressed scepticism as to the likelihood of that happening.
The full article can be found here: