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Is this the end for access to justice?

03rd February 2012

On the face of it, it seems to be an easy enough problem to understand and put right. Motor insurance, the insurance industry say, has become too expensive for some people over the past few years. This means, at best, that the majority of the population are paying too much for their motor insurance whilst already hard pressed in these difficult and austere times.

At worst, they argue, many otherwise law abiding citizens are deciding to chance their arm and drive their cars without any insurance. And the reason for this situation? Simple, say the insurance industry, far too much is being paid out in claims and solicitors’ costs and if these claims and fees can be reduced there will be huge savings to the industry.

So there it is. A simple problem and a simple solution which the Government has completely bought into – lock, stock and barrel. If only life was ever that simple!

However, the Government’s proposals going through Parliament at this very moment are so radical and wide ranging that they will trade one set of problems for another.

It is widely believed that these changes will lead to significant access-to-justice problems for many future accident victims who will be unable to bring a claim for compensation for injury and loss as they will lack the funds to bring a claim. With the abolition of recoverable success fees and insurance premiums, the vast majority of solicitors will no longer take on cases which are considered to be problematic or difficult on grounds of liability.

The Government will get its way. Claims will reduce significantly in number and the insurance industry will receive a huge windfall in saved payments.

But at what cost?

Thousands of accident victims prevented arbitrarily from gaining access to justice and a throwback to the grim days of the early 20th century when virtually no one brought a compensation claim.

And what will the insurers do with these savings? Pass them on to the public in reduced premiums or to their shareholders in increased dividends? What do you think?

Personal Injury Blog
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