A union leader today accused the government of ‘brainwashing’ the public into believing in the compensation culture as radical new reform of the claims process comes into force.
From today, uncontested employer and public liability claims worth less than £25,000 will go through the out-of-court online portal, with fixed costs for solicitors running them.
Solicitors running public liability or employer liability claims will be able to recover £900 costs for cases up to £10,000 and £1,600 when the case is worth up to £25,000.
Justice minister Helen Grant said the government was ‘turning the tide on the compensation culture’ but at the same time ensuring victims will still receive compensation for genuine claims.
But the Trades Union Congress accused the government of exaggerating vexatious claims to introduce reforms that will stop injured people receiving the damages they deserve.
TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady (pictured) said: ‘The government is trying to brainwash people into thinking the UK has a rife compensation culture.
‘The true government motive here is to weaken health and safety laws and make it harder for victims to pursue claims.’
A TUC-backed report by the workers’ health journal Hazards showed the number of people receiving awards for work-related injuries or diseases has fallen by 60% over the last decade – from 219,183 in 2000/01 to 87,655 in 2011/12.
Just 59 of the 4,000 workers suffering work-related bronchitis and emphysema in 2011/12 received compensation, while the chances of damages for those suffering from work-related stress, anxiety and depression were even smaller.
The Ministry of Justice said schools, businesses and councils will be helped by the changes because they will no longer be deterred from staging activities where there is any risk of someone getting injured.
Grant said: ‘We are turning the tide on the compensation culture which has pushed up the cost of insurance for drivers, schools and business – and taking another important step to reducing the cost of living for ordinary people.’
The new fixed fees for EL and PL claims are the latest in a series of changes aimed at reducing the cost of civil litigation.
In April, fixed fees for low-value RTA claims were cut from £1,200 to £500, and from today the system will also start handling claims of up to £25,000 for road accident injuries (the previous maximum was £10,000).