The High Court has finally condemned genuine victims of accidents to a bleak future by throwing out the judicial review. Friday was the last chance saloon for the personal injury sector as the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) and the Motor Accident Solicitors Society (MASS) attended their judicial review to challenge the new costs for personal injury claims under £10,000.
It ended as many suspected it would, with the High Court rejecting the review and further plunging claimants and the entire personal injury sector into an uncertain future.
Lord Justice Elias found in favour of the government and summarised that the decision to make changes to the costs were made back in 2011 and not as APIL and MASS suggested, in February 2012 as a result of the Prime Minister’s insurance summit, where no claimant representatives were invited to attend.
APIL have labelled the outcome of the judicial review as a dark day for accident victims. In a statement released after the judges findings they said: “Many vulnerable victims of injury will now find it impossible to obtain independent legal representation as a result of the bitterly disappointing judgement in the Administrative Court. As the government has now decided to slash lawyers’ fees in the road traffic accident claims process, many people will be left on their own to negotiate with insurers for fair and proper compensation for their injuries…
“This is a dark day for people who are injured through no fault of their own. We can only hope that the government does not take this judgement as a license to continue to ride rough-shod over the needs of vulnerable people in the future.”
Motor Accident Solicitors Society also underlined the negative effect that the result of Friday’s judicial review stands to have on accident victims moving into the future. Chairman Craig Budsworth said: “The cuts will have a far-reaching negative impact on the legal system, access to justice and the public purse… We need to bring down the cost of motor insurance but it should not be by cutting independent legal advice out of the system and accident victims will be at a severe disadvantage as a result of this judgement.
“Fixing costs at an artificially low level will make it increasingly difficult for genuine accident victims to find a reputable, qualified solicitor to help them with their case and in their dealings with the defendant’s insurer. Reform in the sector is too fast, goes too far and has not been given adequate consideration – there will be unintended consequences.”
The Law Society also had their say during the case. Chief Executive, Des Hudson said: “We remain deeply unhappy with the new recoverable costs rules and the process by which the government made it’s decision. However, it was clear that the decision, however unfair we considered it to be, was going to be difficult to challenge.”
He went on to say that The Law Society would continue to impress upon the government the importance that people who are genuine victims of accidents that they were not at fault for, still can seek redress without putting themselves in severe financial difficulties.
The rejection of the review brought the curtain down on what was a difficult week for the personal injury sector as Chris Grayling announced that despite consultation, proposals to cut fixed recoverable costs on road traffic accident portal (RTA portal) cases under £10,000 from £1,200 to £500 will be enforced at the end of April. This will leave many genuine accident victims without the opportunity of professional legal representation due to the number of cutbacks that will be forced as a knock on effect.