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Personal solicitors await Ministry of Justice reforms announcement

01st November 2012

The waiting game continues as personal solicitors up and down the country anticipate an announcement from the Ministry of Justice regarding the all-important detail on the package of reforms to our legal system, due to be introduced early next year. It seems that we have been waiting for ever for this announcement from the Ministry.

In the meantime, a former Government minister announced back in May that he proposed to raise the stakes and ‘consult’ on the old chestnut of raising the small claims limit in personal injury cases from £1,000 to £5,000. Well, we all know what happened with the last consultation.

Further, notwithstanding this inordinate delay, the very firm message coming from both the Ministry and senior judges is that the implementation date for these reforms will not be put back. Of course not – that would be far too sensible.

Although this delay is really unacceptable, it is typical of the Ministry’s approach I am afraid. There was little or no real consultation with the legal profession on the proposed reforms and Lord Justice Jackson must be left feeling bemused that his raft of proposals for reform have been selectively accepted by the Government to suit the insurance industry.

There has been an obvious absence of joined-up thinking and there is a sense that a real opportunity for change is about to be missed. Meanwhile, a shell-shocked legal profession is not even going to be afforded the courtesy of having time to adapt with an implementation date less than five months away and still no final Ministry announcement.

So where will this all end up? What level of fees will the Ministry allow us on small value claims under £25,000? Will it be sufficient for firms to continue turning a profit or will personal injury end up like other areas of law and be a no-go zone for solicitors? Will we even get a choice or will the small claims limit be increased and that decision taken way from us? Who knows? Come on Ministry of Justice – it’s time to let us know!

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