Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Personal injury small claims court limit - a victory for common sense

Charlie Falconer may have his critics but as far as Im concerned he's made a great decision in announcing that the small claims personal injury limit will remain at £1000.

Defendant bodies (FOIL & the ABI) have been pushing for some time for the limit to be increased. They would prefer a new ceiling of at least £2500 which they believe would allow claimants (injured victims) to be compensated by the insurers without the involvement of a solicitor. This would reduce costs, reduce delays and still result in adequate compensation being received by the claimant.

To be frank - their argument was complete bollocks.

Insurers dont treat people fairly when they are unrepresented, its a known fact within the industry. Furthermore there are many relatively nasty injuries that can fall within the damages bracket of 2500-3000 such as simple fractures and moderate whiplash injuries. However these claims are not straightforward and most claimants would be left clueless by the procedures and the legalities involved.

Advice bodies such as the Citizens Advice Bureau would be inundated with specialist enquiries they could not handle. The infrastructure would simply not cope.

The DCA have seen through all this and have decided that following a detailed consultation they will be maintaining the current small claims figure of £1000

This means that solicitors can still provide assistance on claims above that level with the assurance that costs can be recovered. This ensures that the claimant is not left with a legal bill, assuming the case is successful, at the end of the case. They have the "access to justice" that they deserve.

So Charlie got this one bang on

He also intends to introduce measures which should help to speed up the whole claims process such as "settlment packs" and compulsory claimant p36 offers when releasing medical evidence. This will in turn reduce costs and delays which was, after all, the main objective of the consultation.

(we can all sleep at night now)


Omar Cruz said...
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Nearly Legal said...

I posted on this a couple of weeks ago in regard to the housing disrepair small claims limit. Similar forces were pushing for a raise to £5k from £1k. It was left at £1k, which is a good thing for exactly the same reasons you give (plus how is the average punter to manage an application for interim injunction for repairs?).

legalspy said...


Dont know much about housing disrepair claims but the key issues are very similar.

As I said common sense (remarkably) prevailed

The one big win for the insurers in all this is that the ATE market will now be completely undermined by the proposed reforms. Cant say Im too bothered about this - its always been difficult explaining the concept and offering CCA agreements to clients early on in a claim.

Its looking as though this will no longer be necessary for cases <£2500 where liability is not disputed

jmw said...

Still waiting for the outcome of the reforms which are undergoing consultation at this point.

Lets move towards a cleaner and more cost effective personal injury procedure. Compensation claims dont need to be costly - they just need to be fair. Lawyers and insurers need to get their heads together.

Fathers Day Gift Baskets said...

Crazy case, when are people going to figure this type of stuff out? My Dad has got a small list of Los Angeles personal injury lawyers that he keeps in his wallet, just waiting for something to happen.