A group of influential MPs on the Justice Select Committee have objected in very clear terms to the Government’s proposal for the small claims limit to rise from £1,000 to £5,000.
This is good news to personal injury victims and their lawyers who feared that the planned rise of £5,000 for road traffic accidents was too high and would impede access to justice, albeit insurers would have been able to access super profits if it had come in.
The JSC looked through the Government’s own sparse data and were unable to find any considerable proof to back up the Government’s plans to hike the small claims limit.
If the limit shot up to £5,000, this would dramatically restrict ordinary people in their fight for compensation against well-resourced insurers and their legal teams.
The JSC said: “We received compelling evidence of the obstacles that would be faced by self-represented claimants navigating the current PI claims process in the small claims track, regardless of the value of their claim, and we conclude that this would represent an unacceptable barrier to access to justice.”
“While fraudulent and exaggerated claims must be prevented, given that the common law right to compensation for negligence applies regardless of the value of the claim, we conclude that more convincing justification is needed for the government’s policy of reducing a large proportion of claims, including for non-whiplash RTA injuries, by means of raising the small claims limit, simply because the claims are minor.”
“We recommend that the government does not proceed with plans to increase the limit for all RTA PI claims to £5,000.”
The JSC also talked about the inability of the Association of British Insurers (ABI) to explain and break down or justify the figures that they supplied to the Government. This casts great doubt on whether or not reform is even needed if the figures don’t stack up!
After weighing up the consequences of how much the small claims threshold should be, the JSC decided to recommend £1,500.
This would mean that cases that are still potentially complex, but between £1,500 to £25,000 would continue to be dealt with by a judge of the appropriate experience, and ordinary claimants would be able to recover the cost of legal advice if they won.
This sensible report should be read by any politician involved in the process before they cast a vote. A vote for the reforms is a vote to harm the interests of justice, the rule of law and the rights of each and every citizen who has the misfortune to be involved in the accident that is not their fault.
The Government must be held to account, not given a license to deprive the average person of their due compensation when insurers already benefit greatly from their rising premiums and look ready to make billions of extra profit every single year if the Government’s plans are allowed to become law.
1. Wikipedia; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bob_Neill