Whiplash/soft tissue reforms still causing uncertainty in personal injury sector

Whiplash/soft tissue reforms still causing uncertainty in personal injury sector

28th November 2017

The legal and insurance industries are still waiting for developments on the Civil Liability Bill (aka the Whiplash Reforms) which was announced in June.

There has been very little movement on the reforms – aimed at reducing the ‘crash for cash’ phenomenon by cracking down on fraudulent whiplash claims – since they were unveiled, and it is causing significant uncertainty amongst law firms and the wider medico-legal sector.

In summary, the policy decisions include:

  • the introduction of a tariff of fixed compensation for pain, suffering and loss of amenity for claims with an injury duration of between 0 and 24 months;
  • providing the judiciary with the facility to both decrease the amount awarded under the tariff in cases where there may be contributory negligence or to increase the award (with increases capped at no more than 20%) in exceptional circumstances;
  • introducing a ban on both the offering and requesting of offers to settle claims without medical evidence;
  • increasing the small claims limit for RTA related personal injury claims to £5,000; and
  • increasing the small claims limit for all other types of personal injury claim to £2,000.

These were published almost a year ago, however, we have yet to find out when they will be implemented.

It certainly doesn’t look like we’re going to see anything in 2017, which means another calendar year will have ticked by without any progress.

If the reforms are going ahead – and we retain hope that they can be stopped or, at least, revised, so that they take a form that tackles the problem more appropriately – then we need to know when, and how.

Access to Justice

As we have discussed before, there are significant concerns about access to justice, especially in relation to a specific financial cut-off point.

When the Bill was unveiled, it was met with widespread criticism: Access to Justice (A2J), the Motor Accident Solicitors Society (MASS), the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL), and First4Lawyers were joined by spokesmen for most major personal injury firms in vowing to fight it.

MASS described the bill as ‘unfair and fundamentally flawed’, while A2J said the proposals were ‘ill considered’ and ‘attacked the rights of ordinary people’.