The Civil Liability Bill – a tilt too far for our legal playing field?
Members of the public might consider that, on returning from their long vacation, our MPs will set about the most urgent tasks. You might not consider that one of the first matters that they will be dealing with is the Civil Liability Bill. The Government, following many years of insurance company lobbying and discussion, is seeking to impose a tariff on whiplash damages and increase the low-value claims limit in the county courts to £5,000 for motor accidents and £2,000 for employer and public liability claims. Such a tariff would significantly reduce the compensation for cases in which the effects of a claimant’s injuries last up to two years.
Previously, damages awards have been subject to the scrutiny and discretion of a judge with access to previous cases for guidance. In future, it seems, should you be unfortunate enough to suffer a motor accident that is not your fault, you are likely to receive a much-reduced amount in compensation for exactly the same injuries.
The proposed increase in the small claims limit would effectively mean that more than 80 per cent of motor accident claims will in future be dealt with in person by the claimant, while a significant number of public liability claims will also have to be dealt with by litigants in person.
British justice has always required the law to provide a level playing field. To that end, the suggestion that has been made is that claimants – injured accident victims – will be able to attend their local court office for help and assistance. But many regional courts, including in Chichester, are earmarked for closure. As a litigant in person, injury claimants are up against a powerful insurance company with deep pockets and experienced legal teams. The insurer’s lawyers will, for example, have access to desk-top and on-site investigations, fraud identification and triage, and have tried and tested methods to predict their opponents’ strategy using sophisticated claimant behaviour tracking systems. Hardly a level playing field, then, for a litigant in person who, as well as facing the legal process alone, is likely to have had to travel many miles to attend the court hearing.
The bill is still being discussed in Parliament so, if you would like to make your voice heard on this important matter, you can speak directly to your MP. In the meantime, if you would like advice on an injury claim, please contact the George Ide team on 01243 786668, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.Business, General, George Ide, News, Personal Injury Blog