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Minster Law calls for claimant sector collaboration as ‘politics’ could stymie personal injury reforms

Personal injury law firm Minster Law believes that collaboration within the claimant sector is more likely to meet the government’s whiplash objectives than legislation.

Charles Layfield, Minster Law Director and Head of Legal, said political uncertainty caused by Brexit, the government’s wafer thin majority in the Commons, and likely opposition to the proposals in the Lords, where there is no government majority, meant there “is still everything to play for.”

He said: “Nobody can be certain that the government’s reforms will get through Parliament.  Politics is febrile, and a number of Conservative MPs have said they are uncomfortable with these significant changes to civil justice.”

Layfield added: “Even if the MoJ is determined to press ahead, primary legislation (which requires full Parliamentary scrutiny) will take at least until 2018.  We believe we can deliver positive change well before 2018, as long as all parties work together.”

He said: “All the serious industry players want to strike a balance between reducing fraudulent and frivolous claims, but uphold the rights of injured people, so it is up to the claimant industry as a whole to come up with the right formula.”

Layfield urged the government to accelerate pre-existing changes proposed by the Brady Report on claims management regulation, and the recommendations of the Insurance Fraud Taskforce (IFT). “All 10 of Carol Brady’s proposals should be adopted, and the quicker CMCs come under the control of the FCA the better.”

Turning to the IFT, Layfield said that he broadly agreed with the recommendations: “Much of the work already done should be implemented and assessed before we charge down an uncertain legislative path.”

Layfield said that Minster Law would also endorse an increase to the small claims limit (SCL). “The SCL hasn’t changed, even in line with inflation, since 1999.  We think it makes sense to increase the limit, but not to the punitive level of £5000, which will deny ordinary people access to justice.”

The MoJ is due to respond to the consultation responses in April, and Layfield  sees the two months in between as “an opportunity for the industry to think laterally, and change the culture from that of conflict to one where we all put injured customers first.”