Jonathan Wheeler, the new President of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL), has attacked the Government for introducing “insidious legislation” and “Orwellian double-speak” that has undermined access to justice for innocent victims of injury.
Speaking at APIL’s 25th anniversary conference at the Celtic Manor Resort in Newport, Wheeler turned his ire on the Criminal Justice and Courts Act and the decision to raise court fees.
Wheeler criticised the Act for its one-sided, draconian treatment of claimants under the new ‘fundamentally dishonest’ claim clause.
“What about defendants who pursue ‘fundamentally dishonest’ defences?” said Wheeler.
“Who says they haven’t got crucial documents to disclose when they have? Who defends a claim for child abuse against a priest by claiming that, at the age of 15, my client consented to being raped by a 61-year-old man of the cloth? Is this an honest defence?”
“How about the defendant who purposefully sets out to delay a settlement brought on behalf of a terminally ill claimant, because it would be cheaper to pay out on the claim when they are dead?
“Why aren’t such defendant practices also caught by legislation?”
Wheeler also described the recent hike in court fees are “a tax on clients’ misery”.
“That is increasing the cost of litigation,” he said. “The Government call these enhanced court fees. Enhanced means improved. What kind of Orwellian double-speak is being used here?”
He added that enhanced fees “shamed” the Government, saying that no justice system should be run for profit.