Craig Budsworth, chairman, Motor Accident Solicitors Society
As someone who has long defended the rights of innocent accident victims, I warmly welcome the news that the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) has chosen to defer a rise on the small claims limit.
It is a decision that is, without question, the right and fair way to proceed.
The Motor Accident Solicitors Society (MASS) has long expressed grave concerns about an increase in the limit that would serve only to exacerbate a range of consequences for consumers and further restrict access to independent legal advice for genuine accident victims.
The MOJ’s decision follows the recommendation of the House of Commons’ Transport Select Committee that an increase in the small claims limit would have a detrimental effect on access to justice, increasing activity by claims management companies and could lead to an increase in fraudulent or exaggerated claims, not the sought-after decrease that all sides want to see.
It was particularly pleasing to see that the MOJ is now working towards ending the practice of insurers making claimants offers to settle without them having seen a medical expert first.
I’m of the belief that the removal of this disgraceful practice and the implementation of new accredited medical practitioners will have a far more positive impact on levels of fraud than any rise in the small claims limit would ever have.
It is now time to give the raft of changes that came into action in April proper time to bed-in so that we as an industry and the Government can take stock and fully assess their impact.
In the meantime, we look forward to seeing when the insurance industry will pass on the savings that they have already made from the reforms to legal costs structures – estimated by MASS to be around £1.4 billion – to the British public.
While the news out of Westminster was positive on this occasion, we recognise that there is still much work to be done and the future for personal injury lawyers will continue to be challenging.
But we now have a clear mandate from Government on whiplash reforms and we will continue to work hard for Britain’s innocent accident victims.