LASPO latest: House of Commons and House of Lords firm up wording

Published: 19/04/2012

The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill (LASPO) is currently in the latter stages of its 12-step process, with both the House of Commons and the House of Lords considering any proposed amendments before agreeing on the final content.

Originally scheduled for October 2012, LASPO is set to come into effect from April 2013 and will undoubtedly change the face of the personal injury industry.

As the vehicle to take forward the proposals of the Jackson reforms, the bill is expected to include details on the proposed ban on referral fees and the restriction/abolishment of success fees and ATE policies. Final confirmation of the bill is expected later this year and the hope is sufficient time and clarity of change is given to allow the industry to adapt.

The aim of the reforms is to create a “fairer” personal injury system which is currently being blamed for escalating insurance premiums. Fairer for who however, especially with the apparent collaboration between the Government and the insurance industry? The Law Society’s Chief Executive, Desmond Hudson, describing the reforms as “legislation for the insurance industry, by the insurance industry”.

Whilst clearly a crackdown on fraudulent claims is essential, it is vital these measures do not punish those genuinely injured. There remains a strong prejudice against compensation claimants, one that already deters many from making a claim in the first instance. The proposed changes are only likely to add further discouragement.

Genuine claimants are not the only potential victims of the reforms; in addition to LASPO the Government proposes extending the RTA portal in 2013 and capping legal fees on RTA claims within it at £300. This would mean firms would barely break even and sections of the industry believe such a move would actually negate the aim of the reforms and increase the number of fraudulent claims.

Nevertheless change is inevitable and LASPO will be at the heart of it. However until the final content and wording of the Bill is confirmed and released, the full implication is mere speculation. Until then, it’s business as usual.

Content correct at time of publication

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