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George Osborne - Friend or Foe?

View profile for Kimmo Boote
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The potential impact of the autumn statement for you and for clinical negligence lawyers…

What was relevant in the Autumn Statement 2015 for personal injury and clinical negligence lawyers?

The Government has announced in its 2015 Autumn Statement and Spending Review that, to make it harder for people to make exaggerated or fraudulent whiplash claims, the right to cash compensation is to end. The move, the government expects, will see :

  • The removal of over £1bn from the cost of providing motor insurance – apparently leading to a reduction in premiums;
  • the removal of the right to general damages (compensation) for minor soft tissue injuries;
  • the removal of legal costs by transferring personal injury claims of up to £5,000 to the small claims court (where costs are not recoverable).

What does this mean for you?

  • The majority of accident victims are going to be left without the opportunity for legal representation as most personal injury claims settle for less than £5,000.
  • The insurance industry may find that the reforms lead to efforts by Claimants to drive claims to over £5,000. Claimants may previously have accepted lesser amounts under the current regime.

 

What does this mean for personal injury and clinical negligence lawyers?

  • There will still be a market for personal injury lawyers who will be able to reduce their margins, but it is likely that the work will be undertaken by a low/semi-skilled workforce.
  • Removal of damages for ‘whiplash’ injuries may be in breach of European, discrimination and human rights legislation.
  • Firms who have concentrated on low value volume work will either have to change their business models or will disappear. This could lead to potentially large scale redundancies, at a time when the economy is just getting back on track.

 

Any surprises in the statement?

Not as such, as this Government seem intent on eroding access to justice to injured accident victims. While it is right that legal costs must be just and proportionate, and fraud needs to be eliminated from the system, there are already features in place to deal with these concerns.

The increase of the small claims limit and removal of damages for whiplash injuries will deny justice to a significant number.

Keep an eye out for our next blog post which will look at the reaction from the industry.

If you want further information about this particular topic, or wish to discuss the possibility of bringing a claim for Clinical Negligence - or indeed any other type of injury, please contact the Dutton Gregory Clinical Negligence Team on (01202) 315005, or email k.marden@duttongregory.co.uk