Last week the government announced plans to introduce its whiplash reforms in April 2019. According to a statement by the Motor Accident Solicitors Society, also known as MASS, the so-called “strategic alliance” (formed by MASS, the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers, aka APIL, and the Law Society) were informed that ministers have made an agreement for personal injury reforms to be put into place from April next year.
The main focus will be on putting changes in place in relation to road traffic accidents, pointing out that changes for other kinds of personal injury will be implemented at a later date. According to Simon Stanfield, MASS chair, ““MASS shall continue to fight the proposed changes to RTA whiplash claims at every opportunity – but if Parliament approves the plans and they do proceed, there are still huge questions about how it would be implemented, operated and how the worst consequences can be limited.
“There is an enormous amount for the government to sort out if it is to hit its April 2019 target date.”
The date has been set before the Civil Liability Bill, and has even been published. However, Legal Futures are aware that this could finally happen very soon. This also comes before the justice select committee issues its report on increasing the small claims limit for RTA to £5,000 and all other types of personal injury to £2,000, an important factor of the reforms, which will also see a tariff of damages introduced.
Brett Dixon, president of APIL stated, “Ministers have at least taken on board our arguments about the importance of introducing any changes in stages and not leaping ahead to include employers’ liability and public liability claims.
“That the reforms will go ahead at all is, of course, unwelcome news to injured people, but APIL will use its seat at the table to help to safeguard access to justice for injured people as far as possible. There is still a lot of work to do in the next 14 months.”
According to Patrick Allen, senior partner of Hodge Jones & Allen and a former APIL president, “These reforms are misconceived and we will continue to oppose them at every stage. At the very least, the government should wait to see the report of the justice select committee following its evidence gathering session in January.
“The reforms will put significant impediments in the way of claimants seeking justice for smaller personal injury claims and would appear to be caught by the Supreme Court’s statement in last July’s Unison case that, without unimpeded access to justice, the democratic process was in danger of becoming “a meaningless charade.
“Therefore the government may struggle to persuade Parliament or the courts that the proposed reforms are lawful.”
Joe Egan, president of the Law Society, said, “The timeline for introducing the whiplash reforms has been made public before the justice select committee has had a chance to issue its report.
“In our submission to the select committee, we outlined the extensive steps that can be required in low-value personal injury claims. We also highlighted new research findings that show 76% of medical experts would not accept instructions from claimants without a lawyer.
If your life has been affected due to a personal injury, contact Harold Stock and Co today. Our team possess both experience and knowledge in law. All of our lawyers are dedicated in delivering a real value for money and quality of service to our clients.