The government has introduced legislation to clamp down on personal injury inducements from lawyers offering clients money or gifts such as iPads in exchange for pursuing claims.
The House of Lords yesterday moved to insert the clause introducing rules against inducements into the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill.
Justice minister Lord Faulks said the measure, announced last month, ‘complements significant reforms’ the government has already introduced to control the costs of civil litigation.
'In particular, it is part of our focus on discouraging fraudulent and grossly exaggerated personal injury claims,’ he said.
He cited an example of a solicitor offering free iPads to ‘thank’ claimants and another that offered £250 ‘upfront’ as a welcome payment.
‘Such incentives contribute to the so-called compensation culture by offering rewards for bringing a claim, regardless of its merits. Expenditure on these inducements might also have a detrimental effect on the quality of service provided to the client,’ he said.
‘This practice has no doubt developed because of the excessive legal costs in personal injury cases which have already been addressed by our reforms in part 2 of the LASPO Act 2012, but it is a practice that we need to stop to protect consumers and, indeed, the reputation of the legal profession more widely.’
He said the clause will prohibit legal services providers from offering monetary and non-monetary benefits to potential clients.
‘They define what is considered to be an inducement and require regulators to monitor and enforce the ban, as breaches of the ban will not be considered as a criminal offence.’
Labour spokesman Lord Beecham supported the amendment.