'MPs urge government to halt £5k small claims plan’ (17 May) failed to mention the most important conclusion from the justice select committee on the small claims limit for personal injury victims. The report concluded that ‘this ambitious project risks falling short of creating a claims process that guarantees “unimpeded access to the courts”, as indicated by the Supreme Court’s judgment in the Unison case’.
This follows the R (Unison) v Lord Chancellor ruling that employment tribunal fees were unlawful because they hindered access to justice. That decision has set the standard, and all past and future reforms of civil justice must surely pass the Unison test. Indeed, most of the LASPO reforms, such as those cutting legal aid scope and removing, reducing or fixing costs making it harder for individual litigants to access the courts, would now fail if the Unison test was applied.
Parliament should abide by Unison and follow the committee’s advice. The small claims limit increase should be no more than inflation.
Patrick Allen, senior partner, Hodge Jones & Allen