The Ministry of Justice could achieve reform of the way rehabilitation is provided to injured people without causing any unintended consequences by making it compulsory to adhere to the Rehabilitation Code.
Hudgell Solicitors, the firm that has called for the Code to become a requirement, said that there were unexpected and dangerous reforms hidden away at the back of the Government’s recent consultation on reforming personal injury claims in relation to rehabilitation. It said that the consultation was asking for views on measures to reduce the potential for fraud in rehabilitation and cut financial links between solicitors and rehabilitation providers, but cited no proper evidence of problems.
The options for reform include drastic measures such as requiring claimants with low-value claims to fund any rehabilitation costs – like a course of physiotherapy – themselves, rather than have them paid by the party who caused the injury. Hudgell Solicitors says that this could lead to claimants not seeking the help they need and their injury persisting for longer than necessary or turning to the NHS instead at the expense of the taxpayer.
The firm added that it was “remarkable” that the consultation paper made no mention of the Rehabilitation Code, which enables claimant representatives and compensators to work together on rehabilitation.
The code was agreed, and is periodically reviewed, by a working group that includes representatives from the International Underwriting Association of London, the Association of British Insurers, primary insurers, legal groups, care providers and the NHS.
“All sides of the personal injury industry have co-operated to create a way of delivering rehabilitation that works for the injured person first and foremost, but also the paying party, lawyers and providers,” said Amanda Stevens, group head of legal practice at Hudgells and a prime mover behind the Rehabilitation Code.
Only revised last year, she said that the Code contained industry-agreed safeguards to ensure compensators are not forced into accepting a course of treatment or cost they are unhappy with.
“So I cannot understand why the Ministry of Justice is contemplating drastic reform to address an unspecified potential for fraud.
“There is a simple and quick win here – while the Civil Procedure Rules recommend the Rehabilitation Code, its use remains voluntary. Making the code a compulsory part of the claims process will ensure that best practice is adhered to by all, without the need for the Ministry of Justice to take risks with the recovery of claimants from their injuries.”