Below is a history of the ‘compensation culture’.
The 1990s saw:
1. The effective demise of civil legal aid for personal injury claims.
2. The birth of ‘no win, no fee’ agreements.
3. Referral fees increasing.
4. An increase in the number of personal injury claims.
5. An increase in costs being incurred in the course of litigation.
6. The birth of the Civil Procedure Rules.
The 2000s saw the aftermath of 1-6 (above).
Many observers, insurers and politicians concluded that the country was afflicted by a ‘compensation culture’ akin to that seen in the US. None of those observers, insurers or politicians had the good grace to point out that the purported ‘culture’ was a direct result of what was lawfully taking place in the 1990s.
All the ‘developments’ in the 1990s were the result of consultation, debate and government action. However, rather than take responsibility for their actions, the government and insurers prefer the simpler approach: blame ‘greedy’ claimants and their ‘ambulance-chasing’ lawyers!
So what of this divide?
2010 - David Cameron appoints Lord Young to report.
2010 - Lord Young prepares a thorough report that concludes inter alia that the compensation culture is more myth than fact. It was found that there was a definite ‘perception’ of there being a compensation culture but that, in fact, no such culture existed.
2011 - Kenneth Clarke, justice secretary, proposes to tackle the compensation culture (rather futile judging by Lord Young’s findings).
2014 - Chris Grayling vows to get rid of the compensation culture (the second justice secretary in succession who failed to read Lord Young’s report).
2015 - Michael Gove plans to deal with the compensation culture.
So it seems that the government has decided that contrary to the express and unequivocal conclusion of its own report, we do have a compensation culture after all.
If we do have a compensation culture (and that is not proven or accepted), it has been caused solely by the events of the 1990s. None of these events were caused by ‘greedy’, ‘fraudulent’ claimants or their ‘ambulance-chasing’ lawyers.
Guy Platt-Higgins, managing director, Law Costing Ltd, Birkenhead