Over the past few years and in particular since 1st April this year the government in England and Wales has found over and over again reason to restrict access to justice for the accident victim in a bid to cut back on costs within the personal injury sector.
There has never been any real consideration of what is right for the injured party, in fact almost every decision that has been made by ‘failing Grayling’ has shifted the balance firmly in the direction of the defendant.
But up in Scotland a new major report on the cost of civil legal action has set a precedent that the rest of the UK can only dream of as it found in favour of the accident victim and put forward suggested changes that will enhance access to justice as opposed to remove it as is the case in England and Wales.
Sheriff Principal James Taylor in his report did what many feel Jackson should have done when drawing up his suggested reforms and put the victims’ right first, much to the delight of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers spokesman Gordon Dalyell.
He said: “The popular approach to personal injury cases throughout the UK seems to be to try to drive victims out of the courts and price people out of bringing genuine cases.
“But this report by Sheriff Principle, James Taylor turns that approach on its head by putting access to justice and victims’ rights first.”
Among the suggestion within the report which has been welcomed with open arms by lawyers in Scotland includes the recognition of the difficulties experience by an accident victim who has been injured as a result and how that in personal injury litigation the relationship of the pursuer to the defender is generally asymmetrical.
The report states that the Defender i.e. the insurers, public bodies, employers etc. are often repeat offenders and therefore have legal representation to deal with any counter claims they are forced into making and therefore have the resources to afford this. This alone puts the victim of an accident, who is often of lesser means at a disadvantage if they are denied legal representation.
On this Mr Dalyell said: “By suggesting that, in many respects, the cases brought by injured people should be treated differently from other types of case, the report will help to dispel many of the myths which bedevil the process of claiming compensation for injuries.
“Furthermore, while Sheriff Principle, Taylor clearly referred to changes introduced in England and Wales in his review, he acknowledged the differences within the Scottish system and made recommendations which should enhance access to justice for injured people in Scotland.”
The fact that what is happening in our legal system is clearly being used as a yardstick on how not to reform the civil legal system just about sums up how lost our government has been when it comes to making the decisions.
At the end of the day personal injury claims would not be necessary if it wasn’t for the defendant causing the injury by accident in the first place, and as Scotland seem to be acknowledging, this should be the basis when considering what is best for access to justice and not what cost it comes to for the negligent defendant and the greedy insurance companies.
1. Pixabay; skeeze; https://pixabay.com/en/doctor-patient-hospital-child-899037/