31 May 2016
APIL Conference Sees Confirmation of Government Plans
Even if you didn’t attend personally, I’m sure by now you can’t have failed to see the fallout from this month’s Association of Personal Injury Lawyers’ conference in Birmingham. In particular, the content and reaction to justice minister Lord Faulks’ speech grabbed our attention.
He reiterated the government’s pledge to reform the procedures for personal injury cases, in order to bring motor premiums down, telling the assembled audience that the MoJ is intent on pushing through proposals to scrap general damages for whiplash claims and raise the small claims limit to £5,000 for all personal injury claims. And he confirmed that the government aims to launch a detailed industry consultation once the forthcoming EU referendum is out of the way.
While Faulks stated his firm personal commitment to the proposals as a way to reduce fraud and save money for law-abiding motorists, he never the less conceded that the plan to remove general damages for whiplash claims would surprise and force a rethink for many in the industry. When referencing the small claims limit, Faulks said the threshold had remained at £1,000 for a quarter of a century and now was the right time to raise it as part of a wider package of legal reforms. He didn’t get an easy ride from delegates failing to clarify, among other things, where insurers’ savings from the Jackson reforms had gone, but said he was confident insurance firms will pass on savings from the forthcoming changes and that the government would not shy away from implementing further reforms if they fail to reduce motor insurance premiums.
Following his speech, and in the various online legal forums that have covered it since, most of the audience remained sceptical with many asking whether or not the minister in fact believes what he said and if he was aware that the costs of claims have fallen while the costs of insurance have continued to rise. In one of the favourite online comments we’ve seen, an anonymous lawyer posted: “We are 6 months down the line from the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement and nobody is any the wiser as to how the changes are going to be implemented. It’s an omni shambles!”