The Ministry of Justice – the department pushing through measures to curb personal injury claims – has revealed that the number of such claims is already on the decline.

Civil justice statistics published today confirmed that the number of personal injury claims in the county court fell by 7% to 33,500 in the first quarter of 2018. The decrease represents a reversal in claim trends, after the same period in 2017 reflected a 10% increase in PI claims.

The current fall comes just weeks after the Department for Work and Pensions’ Compensation Recovery Unit reported that the total number of cases registered with it fell by 13% to 853,615 in 2017/28. 

Personal injury lawyers suggest the government is already winning its battle to reduce claims numbers and should delay further reform until changes from recent years have had a chance to take full effect.

Justice secretary David Gauke has backed the new Civil Liability Bill Civil Liability Bill saying the number of whiplash claims had been ‘too high for too long’, and was ‘symptomatic of a wider compensation culture’. That legislation, which introduces a tariff for whiplash damages, is due for report stage in the House of Lords next Tuesday.

Justice minister Rory Stewart, answering a written question in parliament this week, reiterated that the government intends to implement all elements of its reform programme by 2019. This includes both the measures in the Civil Liability Bill and supplementary measures to increase the small claims limit for PI claims which require secondary legislation.

Elsewhere in the MoJ’s civil justice statistics, it was confirmed the average time taken for small claims has increased by two weeks to 33 weeks and for multi and fast track claims by almost two weeks to 56.7 weeks. In January to March 2018, almost all (98%) of unspecified money defences (largely made up of PI claims) had legal representation for both the respondent and claimant.