Proposed reforms to the small claims limit and its consequences for individuals


09 February 2018

“The current system would require a complete overhaul if the proposed reforms are to come into place in order to ensure that the claims process remains both accessible and fair to all victims.”

In January 2018, Lord Keen, spokesperson for the Ministry of Justice in the House of Lords, repeated the government’s claim to the House of Commons justice select committee that the increase in the small claims limit was necessary because of ‘the high number of fraudulent claims’ in this area.

Despite not being able to give a figure to the amount of fraudulent claims made per year, Lord Keen suggested that litigants in person (individuals representing themselves), no longer entitled to free legal support, would be able to find help and advice from elsewhere. He claimed that charities such as the Citizens Advice Bureau, already part of an increasingly overstretched charity sector, and claims management companies, some of whom he described as “rogue”, would be appropriately placed to support them.

If these proposed reforms were to be introduced, litigants would be placed into increasingly difficult situations which would negatively impact their ability to make a claim. There is also no evidence that either the charitable sector or claims management companies could adequately fill a role currently performed by expert personal injury solicitors.

Without professional help litigants in person would be left alone to navigate the existing claims system portal and MedCo expert selection process, which currently connects law firms acting on behalf of their client with independent medical experts able to produce medico-legal reports.

The MedCo element of the process in particular remains a largely inaccessible system for those without any prior experience in this area. Currently litigants in person cannot even register to use the system. David Stothard, managing director of MAPS Medical Reporting, has previously highlighted the need for a complete overhaul of the current system if the claims process is to be manageable for litigants.

“As it stands, it would be unfeasible to believe that litigants in person could access the current claims system. If it were to operate as an online court process the major issues involved in designing a specification for such a novel IT process would have to be carefully addressed. Our experience is that many medical experts are reluctant to accept direct instructions from litigants in person for a range of reasons. All of this suggests that scant regard is being given to the practical implications of the government’s proposals”, commented Mr Stothard.

“As an experienced medical reporting organisation, MAPS Medical Reporting understands the importance of selecting and instructing the most appropriate medical expert witness to prepare a high quality medico-legal report that meets the requirements of the Civil Procedure Rules.

“The current system would require a complete overhaul if the proposed reforms are to come into place in order to ensure that the claims process remains both accessible and fair to all victims.”

MAPS Medical Reporting provides quick access to reputable experts and high quality, specialist medico legal reports to provide its customers with robust expert medical evidence to expedite both treatment services for the victim and the claims process. Contact us to find out more about how we can support you.