Chris Grayling’s decision not to raise the small claims court limit is heartening.
Holding high office can be an expensive education for the incumbent. Not all statespersons show much sign of having paid attention during lessons.
Credit then to justice secretary Chris Grayling for deciding against raising the small claims court limit to £5,000 – thereby resiling from a policy preference set out in a December 2012 consultation paper, catchily titled ‘Reducing the number and costs of whiplash claims’.
The first non-lawyer lord chancellor has a political reputation in some circles as an ideologue – or for unwavering consistency, depending on your view.
But in leaving the small claims limit in place and in heeding warnings on price-competitive tendering, he has demonstrated a willingness to listen to arguments made variously by Chancery Lane and the Transport Select Committee.
It would be in the interest of both lawyers and the public if this became the default attitude for consultations by the ministry of justice – policy would stand a better chance of actually working in such a bright new future.
It would also serve the interests of Grayling himself, who, following previous reforms to the Home Office’s range of briefs, superintends some of the more politically toxic parts of government. It might seem obvious, but no home secretary would reacquire the prisons brief by choice.