MPs have called on the government to halt personal injury law reforms amidst ‘deep concern’ at the pace and extent of change.
An early day motion in the House of Commons, signed by seven MPs so far from Labour and the Liberal Democrats, calls for the government to carry out an impact assessment of the Jackson reforms before considering any more upheaval.
Their call comes in the week the Ministry of Justice closes its consultation on the small-claims court limit, which is proposed to rise from £1,000 to £5,000. Today is the last day to submit responses.
The increase would effectively eliminate lawyers from the RTA claims process and leave victims unrepresented and relying on insurers to make fair offers of compensation.
The early day motion, sponsored by Bolton North East MP David Crausby, is the first sign that politicians have reservations about the small-claims limit proposal.
The motion ‘acknowledges the need to cut costs in the legal system but urges the government to ensure that this is not at the expense of innocent accident victims’.
It adds that the changes will ‘fundamentally change civil litigation in the UK and alter the balance between claimants and defendants; further [the House] believes that impact assessments on the individual, piecemeal reforms are insufficient and will not demonstrate the cumulative impact of all of the changes on those seeking justice.’
The motion is unlikely to lead to a parliamentary debate but opens a new channel to voice concerns about the speed of change.
The government consultation, on reducing the number and cost of whiplash claims, comes at a time when RTA personal injury lawyers are preparing to take a £700 cut in the fixed recoverable fees they can claim through the portal.
As well as raising the small-claims limit, the consultation looks at the creation of independent medical panels to support better diagnosis of whiplash injuries.