Association of Personal Injury Lawyers
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Blog: Decisions to come in 2017

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Decisions to come in 2017
Deborah Evans | 06 Jan 2017

2016 was a mixed year on many fronts. So Brexit and Trump aside, how did the injured person fare?

It was a quiet year for decisions, and political instability undoubtedly led to delay in expected consultations. The always ‘imminent’ consultation on clinical negligence fixed costs never materialised, ministers in the Department of Health came and went as proposals were probably furiously redrafted to shoe horn in with the small claims consultation, and then there were Jackson’s musings on fixed costs.

The Autumn statement of 2015 had bought the spectre of whiplash reform.  They materialised a year later, slightly watered down, but no less appetising with talk of insultingly low tariffs replacing proper compensation at the levels agreed by the judiciary – the lowlight being a paltry £25 for psychological trauma. Worse nightmares were confirmed as the Government played on populist perceptions of a so-called ‘compensation culture’ by labelling them ‘whiplash reforms’. In fact they were a Trojan horse for sinister reforms across all low value injury claims, whether for injuries at work, in public places, or for failures in hospitals. These reforms are designed to discourage claims for genuine injury, stripping claimants of their rights to both compensation and representation on the fundamentally flawed promise of lower insurance premiums.

APIL exposed the insurance industry for not passing on the much-promised savings from LASPO on the front page of The Times, creating doubt as to whether lowering claims costs would ever translate into lower motor insurance premiums. APIL’s Can the Spam! campaign, launched in June, promoted a ban on cold calling as the best way to target fraud and reduce costs, while protecting the genuinely injured claimant.

The latest Jackson proposals to introduce fixed costs into cases worth up to £250k across all of personal injury taught us all a new word - balkanisation - which, it appears, is a bad thing that must be avoided. Whilst proposals are at an early stage, views are being sought and reports written during the first half of 2017. There are serious concerns as to how fixed costs could operate fairly in such complex and varied cases, with such robust defendant behaviour. The ‘one size fits all’ approach of treating all areas of personal injury law exactly the same from a costs perspective is raising the most experienced of eyebrows.

In December, after years of significant pressure from APIL the Lord Chancellor at last agreed to review the discount rate. Hoorah. The news was a highlight for claimants and bad news for insurers. The ABI quickly slapped down a judicial review of the decision before the ink was even dry. We now await the Lord Chancellor’s decision, due by 31 January. The only correct decision is that the rate is substantially reduced.  

So if 2016 was all talk, what does 2017 hold? Decisions. May they be the best, most informed decisions the Government can make, based on evidence and justice, not spurious statistics twisted to suit the argument, or myths peddled to justify a poor policy choice.

Past blog entries

Accident and negligence: what’s the difference and why does it matter? , 02 Aug 2021
Patient safety problems risk waning public confidence in the NHS , 20 May 2021
Consumers will not benefit from Do-it-Yourself whiplash reforms, 28 Jan 2021
Effects of a change in the discount rate: what happens when a review is expected? , 16 Dec 2020
Three per cent drop in premiums does not reflect massive insurer savings, 09 Nov 2020
What help is out there for families when someone is injured?, 02 Nov 2020
Blindly heading into the unknown for injured people?, 09 Dec 2019
Lessons in looking after one another , 18 Nov 2019

About this blog

Deborah Evans

I'm Deborah Evans, APIL's Chief Executive Officer. I shall be using this blog to keep you informed about campaigning and political work carried out by APIL.