Defendant lawyers to oppose small claims limit rise

Topics: Insurance,Government & politics

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  • Laurence besemer

Defendant lawyers say they will put forward an ‘independent and principled’ stance on personal injury reforms that will differ from the one taken by insurers.

The Forum of Insurance Lawyers has said it opposes moves to increase the small claims limit to £5,000 for personal injury and to remove general damages for minor soft-tissue injuries.

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The proposals were put forward in November by chancellor George Osborne and lawyers are awaiting the publication of a consultation that will explain in detail how they would work.

FOIL has inclined towards supporting insurers on major civil justice reform in recent years, but the organisation says it is ‘regrettably’ unable to support the Association of British Insurers on this issue.

‘It is unfortunate that there has not been a willingness on the part of the government to wait until the effects of recent reforms have come to fruition before proposing further change,’ said FOIL chief executive Laurence Besemer (pictured).

‘What’s needed is a well thought through package of measures to bring about the government’s objectives.’

The group says it will not join any claimant alliance to oppose reform, but instead will try to persuade the government to adopt proposals which limit the changes to whiplash claims and not personal injury more generally.

It believes a more widespread increase in the small claims limit would create 'claims inflation', raise costs by increasing the number of litigants in person, and do nothing to counter fraud.

Duncan Rutter, FOIL's president, said: ‘If the small claims limit is to be increased, a move we would caution against in view of the likely consequences, FOIL believes that the change should be introduced alongside a number of measures to make sure the new regime is workable.

‘FOIL members would like to see online access to justice for claimants, whether through the portal or by way of a new online process, which should make allowance for individuals with limited access to technology; better regulation of claims management companies; and a process allowing claimants to value their own claims.’

The government has said its changes will result in around £40 being taken off the cost of each car insurance premium. The consultation is expected within the coming weeks, with implementation likely by April 2017.

Readers' comments (38)


  • Somewhat late in the day FOIL have realised that they have been taken for chumps by their clients - all these years they have truly been turkeys voting for Christmas.

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  • Well the Chickens have finally come home to roost.

    I take it, a light bulb has now come on at Defendant Lawyer Firms.
    Has the ‘penny finally dropped’ that they only get instructed when Claimants issue proceeding. FACT: no one will be looking to issue on the small claims track, Defendant firms simply go out of business.

    Issue Fee at (£1500.00 -£3000.00) = £155 + hearing fee £170.00 = TOTAL COURT FEES £325.00
    Solicitors costs £66.67 NET – ( Good to Proportionality has bedded in well in CPR , hey; LJ Jackson )

    I have read literally hundreds of articles over the years from senior figures in Defendant Law Firms calling for the Small claim track limit to raise and that whiplash claims are fundamentally fraud.

    Talk about, ………………be careful what you wish for !!!

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  • Oh, vile stench of hypocrisy!

    If FOIL really are lawyers for insurers, then they should be giving their full-throated support to any initiative that serves their masters. But no. They keep banging the same old tired drum ('Everybody is neck-deep in fraud!') while this time pleading for their own jobs.

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  • As a claimant lawyer I welcome this. You now have both sides of the fence saying "hey.... this is a bad idea!!" That leaves the only pro reform voice as being the insurance industry. They will ultimately become marginalised if claimant and defendant's remain united to a degree. the amount of fraud in the system has been fraudulently exaggerated by the insurers themselves. A small increase to say £1500 would achieve the aim of taking low value claims out of the system without decimating claimant and defendant firms and removing people from the heart of the legal system

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  • Be a repentant than a sinner.

    Now where are TLS again, what are they doing, from my perspective Seamus Milne is far more effective as a director of communications than TLS, I mean at least he's got the Morning Star and Socialist Worker on board for the Corbyn project.

    Where's the penetration into the main stream media pointing out the folly of these proposals and if implemented the significant loss of revenue to HMG?

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  • peccavi, that should read 'better . . . '

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  • The difficulty is that the change of position is too obviously self serving. We are here because our Defendant brethren have assisted the publication of the following myths:
    1. Claims are going up
    2. Costs per claim are going up
    3. Actual fraud is rife
    4. The figures advanced by the ABI are bounded in fact

    The only way this has any relevance is if they now come out and admit that the above statements are in fact false. Anything less than that is not going to be effective and not worth reporting.

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  • TLS could not get involved with previous issues that seemed to affect Claimants only (even though it cost D's their jobs after implementation). Now that both Claimant and Defendant's are singing from similar hymn sheets...I demand that TLS get involved for the benefit of their members. What am I paying for...???

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  • Too little too late - I think they've blown it.

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  • I agree with 2.12pm. They have gone along with the insurers fraud fiction and now everyone, including themselves, are going to pay the price

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