A2J Comments on the Government’s decision to consult on reforms to whiplash

Andrew Twambley, spokesperson for Access to Justice (A2J) said: 

Consultation timescales very disappointing

“We welcome the consultation, as it gives the industry a chance to engage properly with government on the issues at stake. We are, however, extremely disappointed that the MoJ has decided to close the consultation on 6 January 2017, as this effectively means that three weeks will lost to us thanks to the Christmas and New Year holidays.” [Parliament is in Recess from 20 December – 9 January 2017]

 

Insurers benefit, ordinary people have their rights taken away

“Since the proposed reforms were announced in November 2015, it has become clear that the issues are complex. Very real concerns have been expressed by a number of organisations that, if these reforms become law, insurers will benefit at the expense of millions of ordinary people who will lose their rights of redress if they have an accident that is not their fault.”

 

Parliamentary time wasted 

“Moreover, changes to common, or tort, law, which we envisage from these proposals, may well require primary legislation, which takes up valuable Parliamentary time for a very uncertain outcome.”

 

CMCs will fill the gap

“We believe that thousands of professional jobs could be placed at risk, both in law firms and in insurance companies. Without bona fide legal representation, customers will instead be targeted by unscrupulous claims management companies. They will quickly fill the vacuum left by law firms exiting the market.”

 

PM battles for ordinary people

The Prime Minister said on the first day that she took office: “When we make the big calls we’ll think not of the powerful but you (ordinary working people), when we pass new laws we’ll listen not to the mighty but to you.”

“We urge ministers to bear this in mind as they assess the evidence during this consultation. The rights of ordinary people are more important than cost savings accruing to insurers, and our research has shown that 77% of the public do not trust insurers to hand back any savings made to customers via lower car insurance premiums.”

 

Pre-med offers

“We are pleased that the government has proposed a ban on pre-medical offers made by insurers, which have encouraged fraud and frivolous claims, the very thing insurers say they are opposed to.”

 

Collaboration will deliver the best outcomes

“A2J will be participating fully in the consultation. We strongly believe that the insurers and ourselves share similar objectives to the government, namely to remove cold calling, clamp down on fraud, get rid of frivolous claims and ensure the rights of injured people are upheld.”

“We argue that a collaborative approach will resolve these issues without the need to costly and time-consuming legislation with potentially unforeseen consequences.”

“We will be providing a full response to the consultation once the details become clear.”

 

Notes to editors: what the consultation paper contains

The consultation paper outlines plans to scrap the right to compensation or put a cap on the amount people can claim for minor whiplash injuries. Capping compensation would see the average pay-out cut from £1,850 to a maximum amount of £425. Compensation would only be paid out if a medical report was provided as proof of injury.

Other measures include:

  • Introducing a transparent tariff system of compensation payments for claims with more significant injuries;
  • Raising the limit for cases in the small claims court for all personal injury claims from £1,000 to £5,000; and
  • Banning offers to settle claims without medical evidence. All claims would need a report from a MedCo accredited medical expert before any pay out.

 

About A2J:

A2J represents the interests of the public and is supported by the broader personal injury (PI) sector. Its prime focus is to respond to the government’s proposed road traffic accident compensation reforms. A2J provides a cohesive voice to fight these proposed draconian measures; it will work with the government and other interested parties to create sensible, balanced alternatives which protect individuals’ rights, while addressing the government’s concerns, particularly in relation to claims fraud.

For more information please contact: Ben Welsh 07568 382040