It is official; the Government has officially lost the plot when it comes to the claims process and in particular the attendance of court.
The government’s proposal to increase the cost of court fees has gone down like a lead balloon with the judiciary and the Civil Justice Council and the personal injury industry insists that it would be detrimental to access to justice.
So what have the Government proposed? Well, first of all, in one of the more ludicrous statements you are likely to hear, the Government has claimed that fees re not a major factor in a person’s decision whether to go to court?
In keeping with that hypothesis they have proposed a hike on court fees that would be based on the amount a claim is worth. This would seem to suggest that the government is under the impression that the people who make higher value claims can afford to pay more.
Obviously this is total nonsense. Accident victims don’t plan to be involved in an accident which is something the government clearly needs to consider with these proposals.
To work on the notion that just because their claim’s awarded damages, if successful, is likely to be higher, that they can afford to submit it is ridiculous.
Looking at how extreme the hikes will go in terms of a fee increase, in the case where a claim is worth £12,000 the fees demanded would be almost a third more and for a high value claim of around £200,000 we would be facing an increase of around 560%.
It is no secret that the Government seems determined to deter people from entering the courts. They are determined to reduce the number of claims being made but this is a completely unfair way to go about it.
Leading the Personal Injury sector’s complaints, are APIL, whose president, John Spencer, described the assertion that fees are not a major factor in a person’s decision to go to court as ‘completely disingenuous’.
He went on to criticise the proposals further, saying: “The move is bound to discourage people from making valid claims – people who have every right to make them. And the idea that seriously injured people making higher-value claims are more likely to be able to afford the new fees is outrageous.”
“The severity of an injury has nothing to do with the injured person’s capacity to pay. This new regime will dictate that some seriously-injured people will be expected to pay £10,000 up front to bring cases to court, and many simply won’t be able to afford it.”
“These people do not ask to be injured. They are injured because someone else is negligent. To expect them, on top of all that, to pay a court fee which represents more than the actual cost of the service is simply unacceptable.”
‘Disingenuous’, ‘Outrageous’ and ‘Unacceptable’… these are all words that are becoming all too familiar when it comes to describing the proposals of the Government and are not really the ones you want banded about when you are in an election year.
It is easy to see why there is so much concern for the industry and most importantly for the victim’s access to justice moving forward, should this government retain their place at the top of the table.
There is already concern over future reforms to the personal injury industry, with the small claims limit seemingly doomed and unlikely to survive an increase should there be five more years to have to fight it.
These are the latest proposal that looks set to deliver more uncertainty to the industry and based on utterly delusional concepts and the worst thing about it all is the person who will suffer the most is the genuine accident victim, and in this case the serious accident victim who not only will have to deal with the severity of their injury but will struggle to get the access to the compensation they desperately need and the justice that they deserve.