A leading figure in the insurance industry has suggested it may be time to scale back ambitions for reforming personal injury small claims. The Ministry of Justice has indicated it will increase the small claim limit from £1,000 to £2,000 for employers’ liability and public liability claims – as well pushing the limit to £5,000 for RTA claims.
The RTA element is being facilitated by a new portal to make it easier for unrepresented people to handle their own case, and is set to go live from April 2020.
But the employers’ liability/public liability reform has gone ‘largely unnoticed’ and may now need to be put on the backburner, according to James Dalton, head of general insurance at the Association of British Insurers.
In an online blog this week, Dalton said a ‘significant’ amount of work remains to deliver the changes envisaged in the Civil Liability Act, and ministers now must refocus solely on RTA claims.
Dalton said: ‘The SCT increase for EL and PL claims remains the government’s policy but I think that the time has come to ask whether this policy remains right, especially in the context of the serious amount of work that needs to be done to deliver the wider RTA reforms.
‘We should be concentrating on delivering the regulatory underpinnings for an IT platform that supports unrepresented claimants to make whiplash claims by April 2020.
‘I think that not continuing to pursue the proposed increase in the SCT for EL/PL claims, should ensure that all stakeholders are able to focus on the successful delivery of the changes for RTA claims.’
Insurers remain concerned at the lack of detail about the government plans for the RTA claims portal – not least how minor injuries such as bruised knees and sprained wrists will be compensated.
Dalton wrote in July of a danger that displacement into non-whiplash injury claims will take place and called for clear guidance on the valuation of these injuries, warning that otherwise the portal was being at risk of being ‘clogged up in dispute before it even begins’.
There are also still question marks over the system of ADR for claimants unhappy with their offer and the absence of progress on new civil procedure rules to underpin the portal.