Figures in the government’s proposals for whiplash reform are out of date and will be updated during the implementation process, the Ministry of Justice conceded to the Gazette today. The MoJ's consultation document proposes that minor injuries lasting six to nine months would receive £400 damages plus £25 for psychological impact, while injuries lasting 19 to 24 months will have a £3,600 tariff.
But today the MoJ effectively admitted that this aspect of its reform proposal had been written more than a year ago – as it was based on judicial guideline figures that were increased in September 2015.
The consultation refers to the 12th edition of the Judicial College guidelines as the basis for the figures, rather than the more generous 13th edition, which significantly increases guideline damages for whiplash.
Solicitor Kerry Underwood said: ‘The paper is misleading and now open to judicial review… The current figures [in the 13th edition] are higher, as they were uprated 3.4% for inflation since 12th edition. But there is something more: the lowest band of soft-tissue injury was increased by 20%.
‘Those are precisely the injuries now under attack by the MoJ as disproportionately high. So the figures that the MoJ think are too high, were thought too low by the top judicial and other experts. That very important fact does not get a mention in the consultation paper.’
An MoJ spokeswoman told the Gazette: ‘The figures used in the consultation were the most relevant at the time of producing the document. The impact assessment will be updated with the latest figures as we move forward with the implementation process.’