The Government’s Civil Liability Bill will soon be debated for the first time in the House of Commons, writes Sir Kevin Barron MP.
Many people have contacted me about the proposed changes to the small claims limit for personal injury claims.
The stated aim of the Bill is to disincentivise the number of minor, fraudulent claims for compensation resulting from whiplash injuries.
Some are worried about the severe consequences this will have on access to justice for injured people.
Although not set out in the Bill, the Government is also bringing a package of other measures by secondary legislation as the Bill is passed.
It is planning to raise the limit for claims on the small claims track in civil courts from £1,000 to £5,000 for road traffic accident-related personal injury claims, and from £1,000 to £2,000 for other personal injury claims.
I believe it is unnecessary and wrong for the Government to remove legal help from many people with genuine personal injury claims on the back of taking action to tackle what are claimed to be fraudulent whiplash claims.
I am concerned that, as a result of the Government’s proposals, injured people may be deterred from making a claim or left to do so without legal assistance.
I know this view is widely shared, indeed, The House of Commons Justice Committee concluded that the changes would ‘represent an unacceptable barrier to access to justice’.
The Civil Liability Bill as drafted also need substantial improvement.
If the real concern is the prevention of fraud, the Government should be looking at other measures.
I hope the Government will now listen to the concerns that have been raised and make substantial changes to the Bill to protect injured people.