Whiplash reforms press ahead

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has published part one of its response to the ‘Reforming the soft tissue injury (‘whiplash’) claims process’ consultation.

The result is that the MoJ will introduce a tariff of fixed compensation for whiplash claims; introduce a ban on both the offering and requesting of offers to settle claims without medical evidence; increase the small claims limit for RTA related personal injury claims to £5,000; and increase the small claims limit for all other types of personal injury claim to £2,000.

Justice minister Sir Oliver Heald said, ‘We are determined to get a grip on the widespread compensation culture that unfairly impacts millions of motorists through higher premiums.

‘So we are cracking down on minor, exaggerated and fraudulent whiplash claims. And we expect insurers to fulfil their promise and put the money saved back in the pockets of the country’s drivers. This should mean about £40 per motorist.’

Unsurprisingly, the move has been met with a mixed reception within the claims industry.

James Dalton, director of general insurance policy, Association of British Insurers, said, ‘The reforms to whiplash claims set out in the Bill cannot come soon enough.’ Andy Watson, chief executive of Ageas (UK) also supported the move, stating ’Ageas welcomes the government’s announcement on tackling the cost of whiplash claims. There is still far too much money needlessly moving through the legal system after a car crash. It encourages fraud and exaggeration, and leads to excessive costs for honest customers.’

However, APIL (Association of Personal Injury Lawyers) in a press statement said the response from lawyers was that, ‘People injured in traffic accidents are to be robbed of fair compensation in the deluded belief that insurance premiums will fall as a result.’ Andrew Twambley, spokesperson for the Access 2 Justice campaign, also stated, ‘We are extremely disappointed that the government seems hell bent on removing the rights of ordinary people to gain redress for injuries that weren’t their fault.’

The consultation ran for seven weeks and closed on 6 January 2017. A total of 625 responses to the consultation paper were received.