"The government will have a year’s grace for the new claims portal to be tested, but this still won’t be enough to support Litigants in Person navigating the complex process."
The UK Government has announced that reforms to the Civil Liability Bill will be delayed from 2019 to April 2020, putting plans roughly a year behind schedule.
When implemented, the Bill will also trigger an increase in the small claims limit, meaning many people will not have access to free legal representation if they want to make a whiplash claim valued under a £5,000.
The Bill has already taken longer than anticipated to pass through both the Houses of Commons and Lords due to the dissolution of Parliament in May 2017. This meant the original committee set up to scrutinise the legislation could not take any oral evidence.
Earlier this year, the Justice Select Committee published a report on its inquiry into the Bill, which recommended that the limit for small claims, including more complex employer liability and public liability cases, should be increased relative to Consumer Price Index (CPI) inflation rates. This would result in increasing the limit by a smaller amount than initially proposed by the government.
The report also stated that if the government did not accept this recommendation, the introduction of the Bill would have to be delayed for a year to allow time for the new online claims portal to be tested.
The government has recently published a response to the committee’s report, where it rejects the Committee’s recommendations but has delayed the likely implementation until at least April 2020.
Reflecting on the Justice Committee’s response to the recent government publication, David Stothard, managing director of MAPS Medical Reporting, said: “The Justice Committee’s report highlighted the government’s failure to understand the potential impact of increasing the small claims limit to £2,000 for more complicated claims such as those concerning public and employers’ liability.
“Crucially, many claimants won’t know how to go about obtaining reliable medico legal reports to support their claim – the government must use this additional year to produce thorough official guidance, and not just the online claims platform. The government will have a year’s grace for the new claims portal to be tested, but this still won’t be enough to support Litigants in Person navigating the complex process.
“I’ve previously pointed out that the original timetable proposed by the government was unrealistic and this delay only serves to confirm that view. The Justice Committee shares this concern, having pointed out in their letter to the government that as the Bill develops, the plight of vulnerable road users and other marginalised personal injury claimants may be disregarded. Without free legal support, many people may not know how to acquire the right kind of medico legal evidence to support their claim, or may simply not be able to access the proposed digital platform.”
MAPS Medical Reporting provides quick access to reputable experts and high quality, specialist medical and medico legal reports to provide its customers with robust 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.