In George Osborne’s Autumn Statement on Wednesday he confirmed that the Small Claims threshold for all personal injury claims would be raised to £5,000.00. He also plans to remove the right to claim general damages for minor soft tissue injuries, this proposal was first proffered by the Justice Secretary Chris Grayling in March of this year.
Just two years ago the Government ruled out any increase to the small claims limit following a report made by the Transport Select Committee where it was found that there would be no adequate safeguards to protect genuine Claimants, this view was supported by Lord Jackson when considering his reforms….what has changed?! The only consolation is that these changes are likely to not come into force until April 2017 due to primary legislation being required to make the change.
In his speech the Chancellor said “we’re going to bring forward reforms to the compensation culture around minor accident injuries”. He went on to say “this will remove over £1b from the cost of providing motor insurance. We expect the industry to pass on this saving so motorists see an average saving of £40-£50 per year off their insurance bills”. I seem to remember similar promises of such savings during the LASPO debacle!
APIL’s Jonathan Wheeler stated that “since 2012 the portal has been extended, medical reporting for whiplash claims has been completely overhauled, sharing of fraud data has been introduced and Solicitor’s fees have been slashed. Government figures have shown that whiplash claims have fallen by over one third in the past 4 years yet insurance premiums have still increased”
The future certainly looks bright for the Insurers once again and with certainty this is another bandwagon for the Claims Management Companies to jump upon. On the contrary, legitimately injured people will be attempting to represent themselves (against Insurer’s legal teams) and inevitably the Courts will suffer (thank goodness for the Government’s planned £700m to modernise the Court system…….what could possibly go wrong)?! All in all, yet another “saving” which will end up being costly both financially and ultimately to access to Justice.