Proposed Small Claims Limit Increase Could Result in Poor ‘LiP’ Service
In October last year, as part of his Autumn Statement, the Chancellor, George Osborne, announced proposals to increase the small claims limit for personal injury claims from £1,000 to £5,000, leaving mass uncertainty for the future of the legal profession and most importantly the right for access to justice for victims of personal injury.
For the legal profession, this move will mean that claims under the value of £5,000 will longer be attainable. The costs of representing victims, who have suffered an injury believed to be of this value, will be far too high to run and they will be forced once more to look for other avenues of work to remain profitable.
For the innocent personal injury victim, the prospect of suffering an injury, because of negligence, of this value is ever the more daunting. Should the proposals be passed, it is likely that they will have only two options. The first is to recover without recompense and receive no compensation of justice for their claim, as legal representation will not be available. The second is to take on the courts themselves as a Litigant in Person (LIP).
What does Litigant in Person mean?
A Litigant in Person (LiP) is an individual, company or organisation that enters court proceedings without the legal representation of a solicitor or barrister, but has the right to address the court in person.
Since the introduction and the Jackson Reforms in 2013, the number of personal injury victims representing themselves in court as Litigants in Person, has increased. This is down to the fact that the victims are now required to pay their legal fees through the damages they receive, rather than the defendant covering the cost, as happened previously
How Will the Proposed Increase to the Small Claims Limit Impact the number of LiPs?
The increase of the small claims limit from £1,000 to £5,000 will effectively bring an end to legal representation for any personal injury victim who is unlucky enough to suffer an injury that falls under the value of £5,000.
What this means is that the genuine personal injury victim, will be forced to accept that they will receive no financial recompose at all for their injuries or seek redress themselves by taking on the insurers in court themselves, as a LiP.
So not only does the client have the stress of dealing with their injury and recovery process but if they want to gain redress and compensation, they will be forced to take on the insurers in the court by themselves without our representation.
Difficulties a LiP Faces
Taking on an insurance lawyer in court is not easy. A solicitor, as is the case with many professions, has to undertake years of training and education to qualify. That is years of harnessing knowledge of the law and how to apply it.
As a Litigant in Person it is extremely unlikely that you have even a quarter of a solicitor’s knowledge or legal experience and you are going up against an insurance lawyer, who has years of experience defending these types of cases.
The outlook for Litigants in Person is not good and it is likely that should you gain any compensation it will be largely unrepresentative of the amount that you would have received had you had the advice of a professionally trained lawyer.
Ask yourself the question, would you know what to do if you were forced to take on the court without a lawyer by your side?
According to the Law Gazette, there has been a notable increase in LiPs in family law cases and that many did not have a successful outcome to their cases, further outlining the concerns over whether genuine personal injury victims will have access to justice should they choose to enter the courts on their own.
The likelihood is that many genuine claimants will be forced to concede to injurers and will not gain the compensation they deserve for their injuries, which is fundamentally wrong.
How can we stop the Increase to the Small Claims Limit?
Due to the impact that the proposed small claims limit increase will have on the personal injury profession; solicitors across the country have been campaigning for action.
These changes have been proposed as a measure of tackling fraud within the industry, based on more false promises from the insurance profession to decrease car insurance premiums.
Now is the time to act and you can help us do so by signing the petition to keep the small claims track limit for personal injury claims at £1,000.00.
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