Yesterday the government announced that they are to delay their response to the consultation on Reducing the Number and Costs of Whiplash Claims which closed on 8th March 2013 and required a response by early 2013.
Instead the Ministry of Justice will wait until they can assess the impact of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 which came into force on 1st April 2013.
The government are also delaying their response until the influential cross-party House of Commons Transport Select Committee reveal the outcome of their inquiry into motor insurance and whiplash which begins on May 20th 2013 when they begin to take evidence from a range of insurers, lawyers and medical professionals.
The Government believes that prior to taking any final decisions on whiplash reform, It should give due consideration to the views of the Transport Committee.
Louise Ellman MP, Chair of the Transport Committee, said “There are strong views on all sides of the debate on whiplash claims. We will hear oral evidence from different groups on the Government’s proposals for reducing the number and cost of whiplash claims. We will discuss with witnesses the impact these proposals might have on reducing motor insurance premiums and on access to justice for injured people.”
Making the announcement to delay the government’s response, Justice Minister Helen Grant said that “The Government believes that prior to taking any final decisions on whiplash reform, It should give due consideration to the views of the Transport Committee.”
She went on to say that “The Government also believes that the impact of its recent civil reform programme on the price of motor insurance premiums needs to be assessed. Consumers should be rewarded with the lower litigation costs being reflected in lower insurance premiums.”
The Lord Chancellor Chris Grayling has repeatedly said that the government want to end the “compensation culture” which has engulfed the UK. But the government’s own statistics which were revealed via a Freedom of Information request made by the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers to the Department of Work and Pensions in March 2013 show that claims for whiplash have actually fallen by 60,000. There were 488,281 whiplash claims in the UK in 2012/13. Compared with 547,405 in 2011/12 – the lowest since 2008/09.
It will be quite some time before the true impact of LASPO is revealed. Initial effects of LASPO and actual effects of LASPO might be two very different things.
Speaking about this news, the Senior Partner at Bott and Co, David Bott said that “It’s good to see a common sense approach being applied by the government, in waiting to see the impact of LASPO which has only just come into force, and the investigations into whiplash by the Transport Select Committee. However, if the government are going to wait for the true impact, it will be quite some time before the true impact of LASPO is revealed. Initial effects of LASPO and actual effects of LASPO might be two very different things.”