Update - Proposed Reforms in Relation to Changes to the Small Claims Court Limit in Personal Injury ClaimsPublished on: 28 February 2020
In 2017 the government announced proposed reforms in relation to changes to the small claims court limit in personal injury claims from £1000 to £5000 in relation to road traffic accident claims and £2000 in other personal injury claims. In cases caught by this limit legal costs of assisting the claimant will not be recoverable from insurers. The proposed implementation date was April 2020. However the Ministry of Justice has announced the date is to be delayed until August 2020, having already been delayed from the original date of 2019.
I am not surprised that the implementation is being delayed again, as there is still little information available as to how exactly the system will work and how the unrepresented claimant will be expected to access it.
As the insurance industry wants claimants to be unrepresented in bringing their claims, any announcement of a further delay will be frustrating news.
I have always had concerns in relation to the proposed changes and the impact that they may have on claimants. In any personal injury claim a claimant has to prove negligence on the part of the defendant and causation with respect to their injuries in order to be successful with their claim and often there are complexities in respect of both of these hurdles. A claimant whose claim falls under the new limits proposed will find themselves faced with a professionally represented defendant insurer either without the support of legal advice and assistance or having to pay for it reducing their damages. Without any expert advice or assistance this may result in the chances of success being diminished or being under compensated.
The government needs to take their time in considering the reforms to ensure that personal injury victims are not deprived of access to justice under the reforms. The only way that the concerns can be alleviated is for the concerns around access to justice to be properly addressed and the precise rules to be made clear. If the government needs more time to do this, then so be it.
I would encourage anyone with a potential claim to start the process as soon as possible, before the changes bite and deprive claimants of recovering the cost of legal advice.