Campaign groups have pleaded with the government to climb down over ‘no fee, no fee’ changes after publishing new research.
A survey of recent claimants using the conditional fee arrangement (CFA) found that more half of respondents had an income below the national average of £25,000.
Nearly half of the cases involving CFAs had a compensation value below £5,000, with almost three-quarters winning a payout of up to £10,000.
The Access to Justice Group (AJAG) and Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL), who jointly commissioned the research, say ‘huge numbers’ of the three million claimants in the last five years would have lost their right to compensation under government proposals.
The Ministry of Justice wants an overhaul of the civil justice system amidst fears of what it describes as a ‘compensation culture and an unwieldy justice system’.
AJAG co-ordinator Andrew Dismore said: ‘The government must think again and not give in to the special pleading of the fat cat multinational insurance companies, who are the sole beneficiaries of their plans.
‘They will save millions of pounds at the expense of ordinary people who have been hurt on the roads or at work. The government’s plans are Draconian and will end access to justice for the less well off.
‘The system we have now works well and has huge satisfaction rates from those who use it.’
Both groups say they will ‘redouble efforts’ to fight proposals before they are formally debated in Parliament this summer.
The Ministry of Justice wants to raise the small claims limit and abolish the recoverability of success fees and associated costs in ‘no win no fee’ claims.
Claimants will have to pay their lawyer’s success fee, rather than the additional cost being charged to defendants, a move which opponents claim will restrict some people’s access to justice if they have been injured.