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Justice Select Committee Concern Over Personal Injury Small Claims Limit
22 May 2018
Last week the Justice Select Committee, led by Conservative MP Bob Neill, released its much anticipated report following an inquiry into the Government’s proposed increase in the personal injury small claims limit. The Government are proposing to increase the small claims limit for personal injury claims, from £1000 to £5000 for road traffic accidents and £1000 to £2000 for other claims.
A link to the report can be found HERE.
After listening to submissions made by relevant stakeholders (including TRUE Solicitors LLP), the Committee raised a number of concerns with the proposed increases, including:
- Claimants in the small claims track being unable to access legal representation, creating access to justice issues.
- The Ministry of Justice’s intended electronic platform to assist unrepresented claimants risks falling short of guaranteeing unimpeded access to the courts, which is a principle recently upheld by the Supreme Court.
- The absence of reliable data in relation to insurance fraud.
- No justification for including vulnerable road users within any reforms.
- The Ministry of Justice’s inability to quantify the impact of raising the small claims limit to £2,000 for accidents in the workplace and public liability claims, given the potential complexity of these claims and the role of maintaining safe and healthy workplaces.
- The impact on judges and the court service, which is an issue raised by senior judiciary.
- The fact that the proposals have been made before any review of LASPO has taken place.
- Concern that any IT platform introduced to assist unrepresented claimants will not create equality of arms between claimants and insurers.
- The Government has underestimated the impact on before-the-event insurers, which may create access to justice issues.
- Regret that the Ministry of Justice did not consider it relevant to estimate the potentially substantial impact the reforms may have on the personal injury legal sector.
Among a raft of recommendations, the Committee suggested that any increase in the personal injury small claims limit should be limited to inflation, resulting in a limit of £1,500 being applied in April 2019.
Time will tell if the Government will listen to the concerns and recommendations of the Committee, but it is clear that there is widespread concern within Parliament with the proposals in their current form.