Solicitors must get up off the canvas to fight these PI reforms.
Perhaps claimant lawyers can find comfort in the prospect of cheaper car insurance, however unlikely that is. Otherwise, there is little to be positive about in the government’s consultation on personal injury reform.
The Ministry of Justice dressed up the changes as an attempt to reduce whiplash claims, but a closer look suggests a root-and-branch overhaul of the sector. Potential changes range from rehabilitation vouchers to time limits for reporting an injury, all with the basic aim of restricting legal costs and claims numbers.
The government is explicit that low-value claims should no longer involve legal representatives, and the temptation will be to accept this as a fait accompli. But while many will be weary from fighting the seemingly constant changes to the sector in recent years, now is not the time for resignation.
The unintended consequences must be spelled out: litigants will be at the mercy of claims management companies and McKenzie friends; insurers will be plagued by a glut of claims unrestrained by trained gatekeepers; and costs may well rise, rather than fall.
Solicitors must get up off the canvas. A January deadline for responses will mean a fraught Christmas and New Year for many, but it must be met.
The profession must fight these reforms: for its own sake and that of the ordinary people who will be denied justice.