Following on from its press release, “UK Govt hell-bent on disruption” earlier in July, The Law Society has once again beseeched Helen Grant to hold fire with the “unacceptable” implementation of the fast-track, fixed-fee injury claims cases and expansion of the RTA portal.
The laws go live in little over a fortnight’s time and the main sticking point for Lucy Scott-Moncrieff, Law Society president, is the Government’s abject failure to print procedures for the new rules.
Law firms may be entering into personal injury cases for road traffic accidents not fully understanding what they can or can’t expect to collect as fees.
The waters are muddied even further as the portal now covers employer liability claims as well as public liability claims.
Claims Portal fee reduction causing solicitors major headache
This is yet another fall-out from the Jackson reforms and a chance to move immediate liability from the employer into the public personal injury system.
The vast majority of all personal injury claims are below £25,000 and, once the new reforms take effect after 31st July, there will be fixed fees up to this amount.
The knowledge that claims up to £10,000 have been capped at £500, down from £1,200, has already had a negative effect on the industry, with insurance companies picking up solicitors’ firms who can no longer carry on their business as they’ve had to drop their no-win, no-fee campaigns because of these reduced fees.
Insufficient guidance from HM Gov is ‘unnacceptable’
What’s worrying Lucy Scott-Moncrieff is that the absence of any formal notice from the Justice office may leave both the victims in genuine personal injury claims and solicitors who would normally represent them out in the cold.
Lawyers may simply refuse to take on small claims because they’re unable to profit from them or they genuinely don’t understand what’s now expected of them and could end up losing the millions of pounds Scott-Moncrieff fears, especially the smaller law firms.
The public, including the defendants, may also not have time to go over claims already in the pipeline that will be heard after the 31st July reform date.
Alternatively, they may face a nasty shock if their appointed solicitor decides that the hourly rate initially discussed needs to increase simply to make it worth their while continuing with the personal injury claim.
We all want the same result, just a smoother transition
Scott-Moncrieff is yearning for a smooth transition and has petitioned the Justice Minister to delay the reforms’ implementation until the legal profession can appraise the changes and amend their mission statements accordingly.
Chris Grayling may well have had good intentions when he announced that the Government was going to ‘turn the tide on compensation culture’.
However, the reduction of fees for uncontested RTA injury claims through the Claims Portal has had more of an effect on those looking to uphold the law than the injured parties who may be seeking to game the system.
We’ll just have to wait and see what the Government issues between now and August and hope that the final documentation isn’t too far removed from the gloomy forecasts predicted by solicitors as they are seemingly being the sector held to ransom, not the public insistent on pursuing spurious injury claims.