Campaigners against reforms of the personal injury sector have appealed for more time to present their case.
The Access to Justice (A2J) group says running the consultation over the Christmas and new year period will limit people’s ability to submit full responses.
The current deadline is 6 January – the end of the first full week back at work for many – and gives stakeholders just seven weeks to respond.
A2J has written to the Ministry of Justice asking for a 12-week consultation, citing the government’s own code of practice which states that timescales can be flexible depending on the issue at stake.
Spokesperson Andrew Twambley said: ‘These proposed reforms are highly contentious. The MoJ’s proposals threaten to sweep away consumers’ rights of redress under tort law that have been part of British life for centuries.
‘Giving so short a timescale to the consultation is thoughtless at best, especially as the consultation is now far wider than the original proposal to ban soft tissue injury claims and increase the small claims limit.’
The consultation was billed as an attempt to reduce fraud and cut car insurance premiums, but its scope goes much further.
The increase in the small claims limit would apply to all personal injury claims and could even rise above the £5,000 figure proposed.
In addition, the consultation poses questions on a fixed tariff system, credit hire, early notification of claims, rehabilitation and recoverability of disbursements.
Twambley added: ‘Overall, if the desire is to do this fairly, properly and transparently, then six weeks over Christmas is not the way to go about it. This is an unnecessary and entirely avoidable imposition on the whole claimant sector.’
A2J’s own survey of firms, to establish the full financial consequences of the proposals, is due to close this week.
The findings, expected to be published by Christmas, will attempt to prove to show the economic impact of potentially harming so many legal practices working in the PI sector.
Martine Coyne, chair of A2J, said: ‘Our contention is that there will be a severe economic impact with thousands of redundancies, particularly in the Northern Powerhouse, Yorkshire, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Birmingham and the Midlands.’
The survey can be accessed here and takes around 40 minutes to complete. All individual responses will be kept confidential.