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Proposed Change to Law on Exaggerated Claims in E&W

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Fact sheets on the controversial and wide-reaching Criminal Justice and Courts bill, aimed at reforming (amongst many other things) the criminal justice system, judicial review and personal injury claims, have been published.

The ‘Tackling unjustified personal injury claims’ fact sheet concerns the last minute amendment made to the Bill in June that would require courts to dismiss personal injury claims in their entirety if the claimant was fundamentally dishonest in relation to the claim, even if the court finds they are entitled to damages.

Despite the amendment being criticised for favouring ‘the Conservative Party’s friends and supporters in the insurance industry’, the Bill recently completed the committee stage in the House of Lords and is currently at the report stage.

The fact sheet also seeks to explain the proposed ban on solicitors and other legal services providers offering inducements to issue personal injury claims. It cites as an example the offering a free iPad should a claim be successful. The government explains that the proposed ban seeks to discourage weak claims being made as it is ‘concerned about the impact such claims could have on motor insurance premiums’.

Although the changes will not have effect in Scotland, notice should be taken of the recent focus on targeting false personal injury claims south of the border. The UK government claims that there has been 50 per cent increase of motor personal injury claims since 2006 despite a 23 per cent decrease in road traffic accidents reported to police. Further, according to figures public liability claims for trips and slips and employers’ liability claims have also risen.

The government’s reasoning can be questioned. An increase in personal injury claims despite an alleged fall in reported incidents does not necessarily mean that claims are fraudulent. A more likely explanation is that people are more aware of their rights and that it is possible to claim compensation when an injury is caused by another’s negligence.

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