Claimant solicitors have been thrown a lifeline by the Ministry of Justice’s (MoJ) announcement today that it will defer their decision on the Small Claims Limit for general damage claims until the impacts of the LASPO and other reforms on the market are better understood.
The MoJ’s decision follows a warning from the Transport Select Committee that an increase in the small claims limit could increase fraudulent or exaggerated claims.
The Motor Accident Solicitors Society (MASS) has warmly welcomed the decision, saying that it had real concerns that increasing the limit would have exacerbated a range of unintended consequences for consumers and further restrict access to independent legal advice for genuine accident victims.
“Our members will today be breathing a huge sigh of relief," said Craig Budsworth, chair of MASS.
"The Government has pulled back from the brink of denying thousands of legitimate claimants access to legal advice. If the insurance industry con had succeeded, they would have been able to hoodwink countless individuals in the small claims court.
"All sides must now work together to address the serious problem of fraud and exaggeration in claims finding workable solutions that are proportionate, balanced between the interests of claimants and defendants and favourable to all those who pay motor insurance.”
Simon Gibson, managing partner of Liverpool-based PI law firm, SGI Legal, said that robust arguments from various organisations have added to the Transport Select Committee's warning, helping to preserve access to justice for injured claimants.
"The government’s decision is supported by both evidence and common sense and provides all parties with a platform to move forward with certainty," said Gibson.
"In my view, the war between the insurance and claimant lobby must now end. Through the referral fee ban and various costs reforms, it should be possible to work towards a system of greater costs efficiency whilst preserving access to justice," he added.