The United Kingdom General Election 2017 polling has been a popular topic for discussion for most. Each party has presented their Manifesto and respective ideas in which they wish to better our country. Their notions impact all industries, predominantly focused on matters of immigration, health, housing, taxation and of course, BREXIT(*1). However, the Tory Government has decided to pave an altered future for the Personal Injury industry, an industry that has been dragged amidst those that are in a position where they demand a more urgent reform.(*2)
One of the first modifications May chooses to implement in personal injury is that of preventing personal injury companies from cold calling citizens to make false or exaggerated claims, a more recent example being the case of Nolan Cormac Blakey(*3). James Dalton (Director of General Insurance Policy, Association of British Insurers) exclaims that the ‘tougher action against the compensation cowboys cannot happen soon enough’.(*4) Nevertheless, this concept brings with it a positive change – the reduction of nuisance calls from fraudulent cold calling companies in relation to an ‘accident you have had within the past three years’; this also brings with it the more permanent modification. The ban of small claims that are also known as the minor soft tissue and whiplash claims.
Chancellor George Osbourne introduced his proposal, which has become effective as of April 2017, in banning claims that may have acquired a value below £5000 in general damages. He defends this change by suggesting insurance companies would save up to £1 billion, which they would utilize to reduce insurance premiums making insurance more affordable. This is reiterated by the Queens Speech(*5) as she describes the Civil Lability Bill. Even though the legislation has not been made primary and will not be implemented immediately, its effects have already taken a toll on Personal Injury firms such as Slater and Gordon, by halving their value.(*6) Jonathan Smithers of the Law Society highlights, ‘the Law Society is gravely concerned that these proposals will completely undermine the right of ordinary citizens to receive full and proper compensation from those that have injured them through negligence.’ He further describes the negative impact it will have on ‘ordinary people’s access to justice(*7)’ as soon the citizens would have to take their claims against negligence to court, in relation to smaller claims such as road traffic accidents, where the costs of the procedure would deter the citizens from taking matters further and therefore sacrificing their rights.
After evaluating these changes, the future for personal injury departments does not appear to be as bright as it used to, nonetheless insurance companies like AXA who are still willing to take a more flexible approach on small claims may allow for personal injury to strive and maintain its place.
– By Disheta Shah