Both sides of the personal injury industry have reacted to the Transport Select Committee’s Cost of Motor Insurance and Whiplash Report and the recommendations made in it.
The document released on 31st July was highly anticipated and social media, blogs and legal news sources have been alive with discussion and opinion on the issue.
The Motor Accident Solicitors Society (MASS) agreed on their LinkedIn page that raising the small claims track limit to £5,000 would have a detrimental effect on access to justice.
Having listened to the evidence from all sides of the debate, the Committee has produced a considered and thoughtful response to the problems of fraudulent or exaggerated claims.
Chairman of MASS, Craig Budsworth said: “Having listened to the evidence from all sides of the debate, the Committee has produced a considered and thoughtful response to the problems of fraudulent or exaggerated claims that we all wish to tackle.
Deborah Evans, Chief Executive of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers believes the committee has admitted that the government has been largely on the side of insurers so far and agrees that insurers must “get their house in order”
She said: “The issue of whiplash claims and their effect on premiums has been subject to much propaganda. But the committee recognises that the number of claims has fallen, and that reports of the level of fraudulent claims are essentially based on guesswork.”
Litigation Futures Editor, Neil Rose believes the report comes as a “nasty surprise to the insurance industry, which has very much held the whip hand to date”. He also believes that the recommendation not to raise the small claims track is correct because “the general public is [not] ready to self-represent en masse” and that it would not make it easier to challenge fraudulent claimants, as previously suggested.
The issue of whiplash claims and their effect on premiums has been subject to much propaganda.
The Law Society’s Chief Executive, Desmond Hudson told the Law Gazette: “It’s time that insurance companies stopped blaming everyone else, be it government, lawyers or their own customers, and instead concentrated on getting their own house in order.” He evaluated that the committee reached the “inescapable conclusion that current insurance companies’ practises encourages fraudulent or exaggerated claims.”
The Association of British Insurers’ Head of Motor and Liability, James Dalton, had mixed opinions about the report. He praised proposals to increase the quality and timeliness of evidence required to submit a whiplash claim, and also recommendations to bring forward the three year limitation period for a whiplash claim.
Mr Dalton expressed disappointment though that the committee did not recommend raising the small claims track limit to £5,000 saying: “This is the Committee simply kicking into the long grass making the recommendations for change that are vitally needed”.
The Forum of Insurance Lawyers (FOIL) has come out in support of the report and described it as a ‘valuable, common sense contribution to the whiplash debate’.
FOIL’s motor sector representative, Nigel Teasdale said: ‘The Ministry of Justice holds the ‘whip hand’ here. FOIL hopes that it embraces the practical, sensible measures proposed by the TSC which will involve all sides of the industry in making adjustment to curb fraudulent claims, while dealing fairly with those suffering genuine injury.’