A2J Comments on Barton v Wright Hassall

21 February 2018

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

“The Supreme Court, in its judgement today (Barton v Wright Hassall), has confirmed by a small margin (3-2) that ignorance of the law is no defence, making it more likely that, if the personal injury reforms become law, litigants in person (LiPs) will have their cases struck out because they will not be able to access expert legal advice as is the case at the moment. The government’s determination to press ahead with the Civil Liability Bill will make a bad situation much worse.”

“Lawyers will not be able to advise would-be litigants that their case has no merit, leading to an increase in the number of frivolous claims coming before the bench.”

“Now, the government will be required to make the current arcane process LiP-friendly, a herculean task given the number of different elements within a personal injury claim any new system will need to incorporate. And, once an LiP manages to get their day in Court, they’ll be up against defendant lawyers in the pay of the insurance industry. That might suit insurers, but right thinking people would say this inequality of arms is hugely unfair.

“With every turn of the ratchet, the futility and farce of the government’s ill-judged and unnecessary personal injury reform becomes clearer, especially as the total number of RTA claims are falling, and the cost per claim is also falling. The MoJ should take its cue from the Supreme Court and do what it should have done in the first place – urge the insurance and claimant sectors to work together and build a compromise solution that guarantees the public’s access to justice, gets rid of fraudulent claims and deals with the scourge of cold calling. We don’t need a new law to do that.”