Personal injury victims at risk of losing access to justice

Published: 02/08/2013

Accident victims will have their access to justice impaired under new government proposals, according to the Commons Transport Select Committee.

The proposals would see the small claims court limit increased in an attempt to stop fraudulent claims. However the Committee believes such changes could actually have the reverse effect and encourage exaggerated claims and does not intend to support the plan to switch whiplash claims valued up to £5000 to the small claims court.

It also noted its ‘surprise that ministers seem only to be listening to the insurer’s perspective in the effort to reduce motor premiums, especially given that insurers have encouraged excessive and unnecessary claims within their own business.’

“We believe that access to justice is likely to be impaired”, the Committee said, “particularly for people who do not feel confident to represent themselves in what will seem to some to be a complex and intimidating process.

“Insurers will use legal professionals to contest claims, which will add to the problem.

“It would be financially difficult for many solicitors to assist litigants fighting personal injury claims using the small claims procedure, given the limited fees available. However we are concerned that some claims management firms might find a way to enter the process, fuelling another boom in their activities.”

The committee does however share the view that whiplash claimants must provide more information including proof they visited a doctor shortly after their accident.

The MoJ has confirmed it will consider the committee’s view and is likely to respond in the autumn.

Content correct at time of publication

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